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John Courtney

Rookie (05-22-1982 / Philadelphia)

A Curtain Is A Gate


When you find a woman
breaking in your head
and dead flies lower
into a window sill
finally evaporating
or rising again like
the tumor they cut
from your brother's
spine that one Easter
and to put socks on
you remind yourself
how to shoe a horse
and you've never shoe'd
a horse until today.

When you hear a phone ring
planning to cry
and clocks pedal
around your dinner
like carnival monkeys
or when you listen
to the Phillies
win the World Series
from a truck stop
and your son leaves
the stadium holding
his mother's hand
and you've never had
a son until today.

Here, on horseshoes,
the poem is conscious,
the words carry themselves
one by one past the cemetery,
a horse putting its socks on,
a vague sensation of how to bury
a broken head, parking lot bats
unleashed from urine-stained pavements
cutting into a hot shadow
to remove the disease.

When you find a woman
buried in your head
and maggots swim out
from the milk shade
or you go to a cemetery
to visit a horse
and the gates open
to a savage new smile.

Submitted: Monday, May 20, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

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