from The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom (Wave Books, 2019)

Of Liberation


You arrive in a sentence
where you would like
to stay, but you are told

to move on to another,
so you do and wish only
this time to keep to imaginary

places. You are not
given Zanzibar or Timbuktu
but Paducah were two

soldiers compare figures on
a motel balcony. You
note the exits and a sign

announcing no free breakfast.
One says, “You look good, man,”
to the other, who nods. Though

you had always understood
figures differently, you
respect their loyalty

to a cause impossible
to understand. “I've been
through two surgeries and

still smell as fresh as
a piano,” the admired one
says. The moon is quartered,

and the air is mild. You
sleep in a rented bed
overlooking asphalt. Through

the vents your German
professor repeats, "Ich komme
aus Dodge. Woher kommst Du?”

over and over until your
True Being separates
from a cough that will not

go away. The professor in
the morning seeks out your eye
as he slips out the door,

“To be in a sentence,”
he asserts, “is by
nature to be passing through."