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Tim Suermondt

The World Becomes Bearable

The Children of Phu Cat

The World Becomes Bearable

When the dog shedding its fear of water

jumps into the fountain moat

to rescue a child’s rubber baseball.

When a group of women in cherry black

dresses spread out a tri-colored

picnic basket underneath an ancient oak.

When lovers pop-up like magic, reminding

you why you wave Love’s banner

as the answer to every question.

When the sun rises and sets, in between

no politician does anything dreadful

and your notebook lives with possibilities again.

When the night is so quiet you can hear

the angels around your bed whispering.

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The Children of Phu Cat

Mesmerized they were, like all children
watching something exotic—the helicopters
and the troop cargo planes, big rifles and machine
guns carried by many men tall and big.
Along the roads, through the paddies and fanning
out among the flame trees, the soldiers passed
the children waiting for them even near the base,
both soldier and child feeling the noise of the war
to be rather faraway at one moment, close enough
the next to seem able to reach out and touch every
explosion. Sometimes in their letters those soldiers
would mention the children of Phu Cat and remind
their own children to “brush your teeth” “do your
homework” “always listen to what your mother says.”

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Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest, Josephine Baker Swimming Pool, from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Stand Magazine, Galway Review, Bellevue Literary Review, UCity Review and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

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