Previous Lives of Poems

Clapboard cottages, modestly painted and numbered,
daffodils in spring ―
sometimes they signal each other
on hat brims, a comic gesture ―
signs for “new green scrubber, left of sink”
and “time to prune the ivy!”
between watching overplayed television shows
and old, slow movies,
eating unhealthy but mostly harmless snacks
like Pocky and peanut butter pretzel bites.

The knowledge of the 11:27 daily
westbound tram is unemotional;
it is blue-striped and fumy and requires exact change,
despite all our protestations
on the receiving end,
our daily impatient hope contortions
and inducement exercises
performed on the median by the station,
begging a poem
to disembark in our direction.

In previous lives
they are rarely prone in fields
of daisies or hops,
rarely in unexpected parking lot fights
and basically never in heels or sport coats.
This would be too much like
the clothed and emotional lives
they might or might not live
in our flatter but less certain world
if one closes the pretzel bag in time,
thoughtfully collaring its crinkly neck
and strolling pocket-handed and humming
to will-call, where a ticket
has been purchased in the poem’s name
for the many-stopped passage
to a writer’s waiting page,
where it will introduce itself,
slightly dusty
and oddly at home.

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