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Poems by Julie Carter


Duck duck goose

Gene speaks of geese,
of ducks, with his fingers
tucked into sign fists.

I must spell out each letter
"I'm rusty."
Forgetting rust, rusty,
did I ever know that one?
"Slow down."

Then his fists pound his thighs
and he honks his impatience,
still wordless but for fingers.
His right hand flips at his waist;
his left is a hinged hand beak
too wild and quick,
like a language of moths beating
their heads on hot bulbs.

"Slow down."

He does and I understand.
He points to the backdoor, the backyard
where the ducks always squabbled
with quick corn bites.

But the birds lie like shredded pillows
in bright poppy cases.
Like laundry undone.



Twin blades


I came upstairs and found a shaven man
reclining where no shaven men should be,
and said, "Who are you; what are you to me?"
He laughed and said, "Your husband." He had planned
to gift me with a face I'd never seen,
his own, scraped clean and close, with just a nick
below his nose. A rash a little thick
was springing up; a razor hadn't been
within two inches of his rounded chin
for twenty years. I stared at him in vain
to find the man I wed. This is the place
where old romances end and new begin,
as unfamiliar skin reveals its plane
and I must learn to love another face.



Bird dance

Robin said to Holly
Stay we'll dance
You without a muscle
I without the ground
From twig to twig to twig I'll go
And you will be my echo.



Death march


Someone else saw the bushes as refugees.
I was too busy staring at the sky
with no roof in my way
and street lamps whizzing by in retinal snakes.

Too bundled to be Hutus, too wealthy
with a cow, evergreen livestock.

She turned to me with wind-whipped eyes,
that could see people in the shrubbery.
And I thought she meant literally,
for I have no figurative vision, see only sheep
in passing clouds.



Richard Cory's bullet


He ate Richard Cory's bullet
and never told me why.
But perhaps the warp and weft
of life would have been too much,
not enough, to explain it all away.

His hand in the mailbox, sideways;
laughing, he said the letter had no stamp
and he remembered just as he let it go.

But it came, postage due,
trickled to my keeping, with the news
of his death. Thirty-two cents.

How like him, how like,
to pay with a life the cost of a stamp,
and steal from my pockets the cost of his love,
and eat filet mignon the day of his death,
and eat gunpowder for dessert.



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Biographical sketch: 29 year-old Ohioan, writing sonnets because I'm a
masochist.

Julie Carter recommends:

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser
Reason: The richness of Spenser's language is unequaled.

Get Faerie Queene Book I at amazon.com!

Recommendations for writers:

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