by Jocelyn Casey-Whiteman

selected by Arthur Sze

For the Defense

I'm doing things in the wrong again:
sprinkling birdseed over a sheet of snow,

polishing my nails before the silver,
setting a table and then going to bed.

People shake rosaries and go blind.
On the crosstown bus, I have the urge

to fall into the arms of anyone who notices.
Our past President rode a rose gray horse

while shrapnel fell and people drowned
in attics. I'd write this a thousand times

to make things right. If you're looking
for resolution, you won't find it here.

Look: here a girl extinguishes matches
on the palette of her wrist. Look: here

by my feet, a sparrow hops on spindly legs,
she doesn't know what's good for her.

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