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I Will, I Will Not

In less pretty lives I plundered and razed,
son of the tankard and scabbard, boots
grinding dry straw, my brow in blue starlight,
a pout-faced child who pounds I will, I will not.
I was obese Lady Nelson, I sang
the Admiral's victories, quelling a riot
in Naples by the sheer force of voice;
I was Saint X, broken-ribbed, hung by the thumbs
for the sake of the bald and lame and forsaken.
I am Abdul and his nasty great uncle, Sir John
and his beard, I am your mother, the white trout
you let go, and strange Dr. Seuss, no doctor
at all, living high on his hump in La Jolla,
alone. In my unoccupied pocket are songs--
songs for those with less clutter--
for the still-blessed-by-ecstasy-and-nano-
technology, you who cruise the vacant rooms
of slow grace, waking, courting fresh dust.
This one's new but the same, one more roar
from the empty stadium, one more jovial prayer,
another flying charge at the unstillable heart,
so willful, whose silence we render
with clamor, more air.

--Kirk Nesset


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