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We work on things

Things like streets

That carry buildings

Rocking softly saying

Really hard prayers

We paid rent to forget

Our long autopsy—

Those used years

As authorers

Of hopeful homes devolved

Into a dark defensence

                       Towering rock

                       With organization

Its mountenance

We behold

Feel our souls



            When it comes to things men should know innately how to do, hugging is not on the list.

Killing a bug is, turning a corner is

Giving definitions by hand or by

memory is, lying is what the wine deep

underbellies of begonia leaves are doing

in the light. Innately

singing songs with wrong words swapped in is

And I love it when a man can be talked to as if

he were a wee babe without blushing or objection

just ruching around in the covers like a varmint.

Tripping an enemy

with twine is, kissing is, to know the flat back

of every tunnel is a place apart from truth

Donning boots is, too hard hands are, making

the sound of a train in a tunnel is, being both the nail

and its hammerer.

I want a man to know what is

The difference between virgin, varmint,

vermin, vortex, and not to simply name

an animal Vespers, but to know exactly

why he’s done so. I want

a man who can harness his Vespers

and take them on long morning walks

without his headphones in, listening

is, yes listening is definitely on the list.

Tyler Barton is the author of Eternal Night at the Nature Museum (Sarabande) and The Quiet Part Loud (Split/Lip). His work has been awarded honors from The Kenyon Review, Best American Short Stories, The Chicago Review of Books, and others. His visual poetry project, Gutters, has appeared in DIAGRAM, The Adroit Journal, The Northwest Review, december, and elsewhere. He lives in the Adirondack Park of northern New York state where he leads creative aging writing workshops with the elderly and the incarcerated. Learn more at

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