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Gene Pfeiffer

For the Lists

For the Lists

it takes time to put down the unfinished
the piece by piece of keeping one life in motion
I create you from the edge of completeness
black and blue ink on the sheets wrapped
around me and a woman who doesn’t understand
all the time I spend with you

yes      you are a way of remembering
but even more a tool of guiltless forgetting
what I give you I do not have to remember

bibles to write
                      saints to slander
                                             tomatoes to crush

each line its own matter waiting to be worked

houses to pull down
                      floors to sweep
                                             breasts to touch

and there is breath in the hum of distant traffic

some find pride to be in the lines

some are terrified of ships they can’t control
they sail to windward
lean one way or another
and will capsize without
                                              appropriate counterbalance

even after landfall their ancient tournaments
end with the stacking of bodies 
one below the other and above
a roar in the distance
true fear always a collection names

but you are meant for no one but me
and if you fall into the hands of the curious
will they read you like a poem
will they discover that all things done
are struck through ripped and torn
tossed away or at best
folded under cups of coffee
to hold the stains of permanence

and will the intrepid lick their fingertips
with necessary courage and stupidity
to pull out the crisp and clean of new sheets
the ones waiting to hold ink
for all that remains

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Gene Pfeiffer is an old ballplayer and communications consultant who lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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