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04
17
07
Turned the torch lamp off when I heard ...


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Turned the torch lamp off when I heard the brushed-
aluminum knob rattle, their sleep-shuffle
through dim-lit hall to bed. Asleep yet couldn't
sleep, my boy, halfway carried in his mom's
struggling arms, feet grazing the parquet. Sees me
from the doorway, standing at the desk, motionless,
a thief, a bad dream, big man giant, looming,
still as a painting, insanely dark. My son

won't move further. "What's wrong?" His mom asks.
"Don't you want to sleep in our bed? Do you
want to go back?" He's incoherent. He's half-
conscious. He's had a nightmare. He's two. Doesn't want
to come toward me. He wants to sleep with
my wife. "It's me, it's me," I say, the air
pushed past my lips so soft no one hears.
The inflection exhaled flat on the vowel.

Step through the doorway, slip into the bathroom.
The usher lets them in the theater. Sprawled
and asleep before I shut the door. My throat
hurts. At six, under anesthesia,
I screamed, "Daddy! Daddy!" and through sterile
masks and gowns, down the corridor, out,
into the next world, they all, everyone, heard me.


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post #190
bio: john ball
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4/17/2007
02:07

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April - National Poetry Month 2007

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