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This is a prayer. Our kiss hang in the air —

like clocks, it stops. Tickless. I have no more


ticks left to give. “By the curly shorthair,”

the kids say, “odds bodkins.” I still deplore


just how helpless I’ve become. It was not

love since I stood up and lovers lay down.


It was not sundown since I get distraught

at dusk and this was bright. Blood had caked brown


around my nostrils. Bruises filled the crook

of my arm. That cough. Easy as despair.


Easy as soap. “There are stains that baffle

soap.” That’s some crap soap, bub. Be suds that shook


the stain in the cat’s pajamas — this prayer:

it starts as a kiss, it ends as a yowl.