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Justin Marks


What a mistake it was

to kick the cat, the fat

one with the bad leg.

Or, when I was a boy

out looking for things to shoot

with my bb gun,

to have all of the sudden

shot the baby bird

with its neck stretched out,

mouth open, waiting in its nest

for its mother to return with food.

Its little cheeps slowed

then stopped, as if

its batteries had merely run down,

and I turned back to the house

to pretend it never happened.

Kicking the cat

was an accident.

It has a small brain

and I’m sure forgot

the whole thing almost






The Jesus nightlight pinned

to my cubicle wall is never on.

I haven’t even taken it

out of its package.

Pigeons are on the street below,

which I can’t see.

Someone told me once

they aren’t really birds

so much as flying rodents.

They were probably right,

but I love them anyway—

the pigeons, that is—

because I’m a poet

and it’s my job to love things

and hate them.

I’m supposed to hate

my real job, but I don’t.

The work isn’t bad,

the people are nice.

Some of them are saying

the Jesus nightlight is really Yanni,

a woman whose name I can’t recall

tells me as she admires the army men

battling on my desk.

They were a birthday present

from Stephen, the creative director, I say.

That’s fitting, she says.

I’m so wired on coffee, I say,

I may never come down.

And she says, Aren’t we all.

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