h o m e........
THAT SMUG AGRARIAN PHASE
Welter with me, bully. Roll your cuffs,
Flat as contact paper, belly quick
so don’t be shy with sillion, trenchant partner.
All fields stay put, but farmers emigrate
their merchants haggling for hairy toeholds.
over the rust belt, your arms use me. Exchange
sun (that ancient tale!) slits my comforter.
THE EXHAUSTED LYRIC
Heat lightning under lids. This wormwood lover
Roots clamped Good Ground.
The nails. This Ashbery lover slapped (liked blood)
More tired imagery. I’m since become displeased
From behind his wallet
(I can look down too.) Galilean in a 40-watt housecoat.
THE FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES OF INTEGERS
“If the kite was the gun, then tar, the glass-coated cutting line, was the bullet in the chamber.”
1. Commutative Property: x + y = y + x
Line up, any order has a bad
Station, World War II, Stalingrad,
the long crescendo to our playground howls
between morale and mockery, a foul
But put the notes in any order and see
had favorites, didn’t he? The recondite
the dancers practiced indeterminacy,
2. Associative Property: (x + y) + z = x + (y + z)
Two boys fly stunt kites, shutting out the third
Five boys shut out three girls and commandeer
imagined kites inside. The blonde-haired pair
is left to mourn her stasis. Solitaire
because the parenthetical adds up
The loner shoots. The Pinkertons call shots.
And the two black kids from school? It seems they’re not
3. Identity Property: x + 0 = x
If you invite a zero along, he makes
TV, the flat screen pulpy to his touch,
on his topographic map, their peradventures,
their therapists. Will Cancer Tami unclench her
the absence of things with rapture? Ask a zero:
sputters before the chrome-tinged cleaning spray
always, as would any a smudge of clay:
4. Inverse Property: –x + x = 0
My heroes vote Republican, yours vote
balanced in how we swing by rote from arrow
voters exist in theory, like any god
For Jesus carries sparkle cream. On flawed
demands some make up. Say an act of contrition.
its way to zero, so here we are, still married,
to bring salvation not found in real life.
5. Closure Property: [real number] + [real number] = [real number]
I’m stuck in my whole self, indivisible.
are integral, but kids, like fractions, skew
They skip out at night, fling starry kites to kiting
What is their calculus? The overalls
hope they’ll keep their grades up picketing
against my will, they’ve grown up whole and one
around the waist. Turn off that goddam theory!
…reduce no Human Spirit
There is no
The Dow bumps,
In confidence benefit
A monthly high.
How Wall Street
Leaves no mark
Ma! I barely
BIO: Julie Sheehan’s three poetry collections are Bar Book: Poems & Otherwise, Orient Point and Thaw. Her honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, NYFA Fellowship, the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Fordham's Poets Out Loud prize. She teaches in and directs the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton.
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