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Mark Neely

BPR 51 | 2024

In the shadow of the county jail

things there are enough of here . . toothless
houses . . torqued chain link
white mold on the oranges
white flowers drowning

four-foot coffins . . the cops
are on TV again
rolling the neighborhood in black
Humvees . . from the courthouse steps

a woman screams
they’re poisoning our children
I cross the street . . my phone fluttering
in my pocket . . awash with beauty

experts tanned like seals
making kissy-faces at me
and my million closest friends . . my heron eyes
me from a flat rock

we don’t want to be seen
my crazy uncle in the woods says
the best lives leave no trace . . the country singer
begs to differ . . he lives every heartbreak

twice . . in the new economy
everything you see . . foil
wrappers flapping in the gutter
buzzards ringing the water tower

even the mayor’s blue campaign sign
in the gun store window . . was ocean once
was salt and darkness . . blind creatures
feeling for the shore . . I go on hoarding tenderness

my doppelganger hunches in his workshop
battling the sirens in his ears
he twists together the wires of a bomb
he sings the country song