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End Words

Randall Mann
        in memory of Reetika Vazirani (1962-2003) and Rachel Wetzsteon (1967-2009)
 
Sewanee, Tennessee. 
Summer of '96, I went there for 
booze and poetry and rest. 
I danced a little dance; 
I talked a little shop. 
I forgot a recent ghost.  

"Invitation to a Ghost" 
was my favorite poem in Tennessee. 
And Justice taught my workshop. 
(God love him, he called me decadent for 
ending a line with an anapest.) At the dance 
party with Allison and the rest  

of the poets from Rebel's Rest, 
ambition was the ghost 
unseen, but always in attendance. 
And I misplaced my faith in Tennessee, 
upon a hill: I gave an undergrad what-for 
after priming him with lines of Bishop.  

Gossip is another word for talking shop. 
But Rachel, sharper than the rest, 
winner of things I hoped for, 
was above all that, like a charming host. 
She spoke of posterity in Tennessee. 
And every day felt like a dance  

preparing us for a bigger dance. 
In the bookstore, I pretended to shop 
with Reetika, Rachel's roommate in Tennessee, 
wicked-funny and stunning and rest- 
less. We flirted like we stood a ghost 
of a chance. I was twenty-four.  

I wonder now what it's all been for: 
that summer; the words; the awful dance 
that followed. So many ghosts. 
Let the muses close the horror shop. 
Let Rachel and Reetika rest. 
—Years ago, there was Tennessee.

Copyright © 2012 by Randall Mann. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Randall Mann. Used with permission of the author.

Randall Mann

Randall Mann

by this poet

poem

Out of the fog comes a little white bus.
It ferries us south to the technical mouth
of the bay. This is biopharma, Double Helix Way.

In the gleaming canteen, mugs have been
dutifully stacked for our dismantling,
a form of punishment.

Executives take the same elevator as I.

poem
Jealousy.  Whispered weather reports.
The lure of the land so strong it prompts
gossip: we chatter like small birds
at the edge of the ocean gray, foaming.

Now sand under sand hides
the buried world, the one in which our fathers failed,
the palm frond a dangerous truth
they once believed, and touched.  Bloodied
poem
          in memory of Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, and Tyler Clementi

There are those who suffer in plain sight,
there are those who suffer in private.
Nothing but secondhand details:
a last shower, a request for a pen, a tall red oak.

There are those who suffer in private.
The one in Tehachapi,