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These are excellent cats, John said. 

I countered. These are amazing engineers.

And so we exchanged opinions for a while

until adjectives and the mundane merged,

John with his ginger ale and me

with my bicarbonate soda. Between us

lay a bag of Cheetos and behind us 

one of Botticelli’s lesser-known frescoes.

It might’ve been a wedding. 

It might’ve been poetry had we looked

more closely, all sky-blue and gold

like Europe used to be, but John 

had to see his accountant and I 

was left to count the stones on the road

weaving through the Roman suburb.

We agreed to meet again on Tuesday 

when the tourists would be fewer,

the world older, the orange trees oranger.






At the far end of the parlor 

sat a piano nobody played, 

a Christmas tree year-round,

& a volume of Bishop poems 

bound in blue cloth. Mother

called it her Feelings Room.

Father called it the Arena 

of Useless Things—too bright,

he’d say, too much to remember.


It was not a place a boy 

could disappear inside or be,

with the overwhelming smell

of lacquer, the braided panels

& the angel glaring crosswise,

always ready to fall. Father’d

comment after whiskey of her

being stranded in a villanelle—

Mother, who wore three brooches.


It seemed to me a room 

where women went to die, void 

of sugar, too made to be unmade,

but no one listened to me.

I wanted the Georgia clouds 

& bass in Sticky River, baseball

& the urgency of Annie’s hair.

I wanted these strange people

to go away & forget me.

Boon photo.jpg



Where the Wasatch—bright

with snow in spring—begins, 


we used to curl blankets 

around the legs of our elders.


Some showed wounds 

in the shape of serpents; some,


ashamed of having fallen, 

chewed pokeberry leaves


& whithered miserably 

until they died. Their bodies


tremendous, we hauled them 

to the firepit & stayed away 


from the smoke they made. 

As such, the bearded men


called the continent theirs

& drank on wooden benches 


long after their children slept

& their wives’ dreams ended.

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