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Poem Built Entirely of Questions and Couplets

after Neruda

Who wrote the expository essay of the sky? If the sun is our instructor

what grade will it give us? Who is the dean of the galaxies?

Who are the regents of black light? And what is our moon revising

with its white, reflective pen? Is it composing a love poem

or a lament? How many desert islands in the mind at seven minutes

until death? If we pry open the mouth of night will we find two rows of un-

even teeth? (Isn't that what the old religions meant by The Devourer?)

Who will the dolphins vote for on election day? How will the sharks

cast their ballots? Will the grains of sand along the shore stand up to

be counted, the same old sly barracudas fix the results once again?

What is that tunnel of white light the fresh-from-the-dead claim to have

seen? How many watts is it at peak load and, when it burns out, who will

replace the bulb? Who booked our passage to the graveyard? Is it true

there is a border wall and we'll be lost there without a passport?

Susan Kelly-DeWitt is the author of Spider Season and The Fortunate Islands. Earlier collections include A Camellia for Judy, Feather's Hand, To A Small Moth, The Book of Insects, and an illustrated short story, The Audience. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and North American Review, and have been featured on Writer's Almanac and Verse Daily. She lives in Sacramento, California, where she is a contributing editor for Poetry Flash and a reviewer for Library Journal. She is also an exhibiting visual artist.

— posted May 2019

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