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Long Beach, CA


Poetry Blog


Brandon Cook

It’s hard, she said, in that way that you say "it’s hard" and almost look away or retreat inside
So that the seam of the bag doesn’t rip and spill its grain all over this nice table
The heart is like a sack, after all, the bottom of which we stuff with the stuff that would keep us from getting up and getting on, one step after another

“It’s hard,” she said, and as she looked away I thought of textbooks or the Bible,
in which we read “and they went to war”
Which means blood and death and rape and the mad frenzy of hate
The black words look so clean and straight on the white page
Sanitized, stripped down to just the glories—Alexander on his podium, say—and the orgies after
The dysentery in the camp forgotten
The boils, the sores, the blisters swept away by the smell of warm ink on pressed paper

Such is the subtext of pain
"It was hard” means, I guess, she almost spun out into the abyss, like a cartoon riding a bike over a cliff
But somehow, just before looking down and falling
She somehow threw the sack of her own heart off the bike and landed here, at this table
Where the water tastes so much like lemon, and the windows keep the rain at bay