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In the Department of Learning to Live with It

Due to early clinical failings,
some applicants are less than ordinary,
though often they forget
which is their good eye,
which is the bad leg.
They throw bread to pigeons
before the dawn because so much
is indigestible by daylight.
They might have married
into captivity, paid devotion
meek and red-eyed, painted
with a color wheel
of beer labels and the regret
of panthers. Every once in a while,
there are rumors of cygnets
glazing the pond with feathers.
What remains intact requires
a mouth that believes it will taste
its river again. Each,
in his own way, illustrates
the theory of ebb and flow,
the rigor and the resignation,
the modest pension,
the spectacular teeth.



Amazing Stanley, the Human Pincushion

There are ways
to leap—wide, beyond the net,
or kneeling with head
placed meticulously
inside a tiger’s jaws—
quietly descending
inner stairs to private
Or delivering
a blade with flair
into the pitch of his own thigh
or bicep, palm.
Not a second best
attraction like the cowboy
in the tent next door
dropping sabers
into the long lined pocket
of his throat.
Instead, dark surgery,
with a coffer full of points
and edges—the graduated stings
of needle, knife,
stiletto, spike. A refusal
to spill anything but
blood, to keep secrets
better than a saint
upon the wheel.



Vera Kroms lives in Boston, MA. She has degrees in mathematics and has worked as a programmer. Her chapbook Necessary Harm was published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Colombia Journal of the Arts, Southern Poetry Review, and others.