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After consecutive eons the moon succeeds
in drawing another kind of gaze from us. 
Like luminous globes we can
drift away from our private 1939.  
At important moments the French
didn’t have a single working phone
line connected to divisions in the field. 
They were as fond of messengers as I am
of the women who interrupt us now. 
Expecting solitude on their own
late walk, they’ve seen our shapes
and stopped, not sure they’re not
our reason for being here. 
We’re lumps on a park bench
they hope are as benign 
as a tumor in the cold light
(what do the statistics say?) .
Were I to call them and explain
we’re not even our own reason
for being here my voice
would travel a great distance
though they’re closer than
I once could throw a ball.



was what his 7-11 nametag said.  Part of his head was missing. 
Tumor or crash they’d excised skull and left steel plate,
thinner than bone, behind.  It made a dent where,
if his head were a hand, the fist would be. 
When he couldn’t find the right word,
he’d make a tapping motion there.
He let me eat without paying
all the chips I wanted from the rack. 
It was a loneliness economy. 
An hour a night, at least, for months,
before I cycled home to grim family
dinners we stood at a sugary watering
hole as I flipped through his copy
of the sports section I’d delivered. 
I don’t recall a word we said.
In time, he trusted me alone
with the cash register.  I learned
to thwack coin rolls on the counter’s
edge and spill their silver
innards in the till.  I never took a cent—
even rung up customers—though
twice or so, too embarrassed
and young to pay, I stuffed
a Hustler down my shirt. 
He saw that on a stockroom
monitor I learned about later.
Like a piglet with a chimp,
when dad chooses not to survive
whatever it was he lost, you take
your family where you can find it. 


Dore Kiesselbach’s Salt Pier (2012) received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and features work that won Britain’s Bridport Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Robert Winner Memorial Award.  His periodical credits include Agni, Antioch Review, Field, Plume, Poetry, and distinguished others.  The Minnesota State Arts Board, the NEH, and the U.S. Department of Education have funded his work.   A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he lives in Minneapolis.