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J.T. Welsch





Skip the poem & take a pill,
offers this most worldly of men.
Tall, he may be. Life-sized,
even. A weak beard in all

its life-sized weakness, though
other bits of him stick out,
a boy tells his mother
& it is Mother’s Day.

Some look almost 3D
—pink knuckles scuffed
inside somewhere, inventing
bi-manual inspection. Business

leaders & neuroscientists
are discovering the benefits.
Emmie, a fainter like her mother,
did not complain. She sang.

Father once found her across
a tub. How we laughed,
while the hotel questioned him,
kicking other people’s pictures to bits.

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The dealer seems to start:
parvenu, upstart & that word,
shrewd. Further back,

cheap first editions of an American
who died last year,
whom I defended once,

half-heartedly. A misplaced
Alvarez still belonging to Julie
drops a card for a best-forgotten film.

Retrieving it, a coffee table
Stieglitz beckons,
though I’m at my limit

& all I ever see
is an enviable shot of tram wires
in your & your ex’s apartment.


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The saddest story ever:
A poet drops a ball.
You won’t believe what next.

What doesn’t ail the heart
will kill especially
those who wait merely

for the girl or the airshow pilot
to fall. Does this feel
natural? I’m a good guy.

I try not to intervene.
Today, half-price: indelicate
sfumato, proud & cruel.

For too long, the face
has been read for character.
The selfie, after all, is social—

We share our food.
They take us to their room.
I go for the one who counts tissues.

Credo in unum. It’s a funny old
world. I want to believe.
Why can’t I have what I want?

Here lies one whose name
was writ on Kleenex.

J.T. Welsch lives in York, U.K., where he is head of Creative Writing at York St. John University. His poems have appeared in 3AM, Blackbox Manifold, Boston Review, Manchester Review, Poetry Wales, PN Review, and six chapbooks, including Hell Creek Anthology (Sidekick) and The Ruin (Annexe), both in 2015.

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