By Spencer Short
There’s nothing dandier than threadbare threads
worn by a discerning shabby dresser.
A collar’s fret or subtle fray is not lesser
because it’s worn away but models instead
the bespoke tailoring of time itself.
Done poorly—the gentleman farmer’s
piecemeal pastoral, that NoHo charmer’s
duct-taped boots—it’s like an unread bookshelf
of secondhand prose: a too-studied pose.
Done well, it draws you in to draw you near,
reveals the intricate pattern in the years’
inexorable ravel. Between decompose
and deconstruct, what seemed a foppish quirk
grows wise. Design undone. We wear time’s work.
Source: Poetry (May 2019)
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The Last Word
I am a door of metaphor
waiting to be opened.
You’ll find no lock, no key.
All are free to enter, at will.
Simply step over the threshold.
Remember to dress for travel, though.
Visitors have been known
to get carried away.Illustration by Shadra Strickland
The Racist Bone
I know this is a real thing, because
When I was a kid, my big sister took me
To the Capitol Theater, in my hometown
Of Rochester, NY,
And there was a movie that afternoon,
The Tingler, which starred Vincent Price,
And what I remember best...
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A wishbone branch falls
from my Grandma Thelma’s oak
What do you know about magic? e1 asks.
E bends e old body down, turns
the wishbone branch into
a cross, places it around my neck.
I am strapped at the Black River’s right shoulder,
I want to put down what the mountain has awakened.
My mouthful of grass.
My curious tale. I want to stand still but find myself moved patch by patch.
There's a bleat in my throat. Words fail me here. Can you understand? I...