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When the Whole, As If Many, That Message

by Sean Thomas Dougherty

Sound Uncle in three tongues, black suits
                                                                                             eating plums
by the East River.  A lifetime ago
                                                                             they watched women
washing white cloth
                                             in a muddy stream.   Dayshift or nightshift,


floating from fire-escapes, open windows
                where women lean, watching (waiting).



                               vestigial:  all three point
                                                                                           inside this language,

to what sighs across the unintended fields.

                                                             To write as if not a funeral,
but an exhalation.

                                There are so many dead.

From a Battery Park bench, old men listen

                                                                             to the brims of their Fedoras.
I gather one like a gesture
                                                                                             grabs for—a book,
in his lap, nodding out,

                                              his reading glasses

                                                                           dangling from a string—


Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author of seven books of poems and prose including the forthcoming Broken Hallelujahs (Boa Editions), and Nightshift Belonging to Lorca (2004 Mammoth Books), which was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. He teaches in the BFA Program for Creative Writing at Penn State Erie. (10/2005)

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AGNI Magazine :: published at Boston University ©2008 AGNI