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Miles Waggener



            “…and those messages (God would not damn them) do not even know they are champions”

                                                –Jack Spicer


At baggage claim in Mexico City in 1991

a grade schooler approached me with

her parents and wanted to practice

my language & she asked me do you

          like soup? & I told her yes


I did

& that Lee Morgan’s trumpet made me

feel like I was being driven

in an old station wagon

through a rainy park in an

ephemeral city which I knew


she knew meant an old city my city

that will someday go away

one of those cities where I’d

never make friends

where a jade ring pierced

the tender hemisphere

of a beautiful man’s ear

peeking through long black hair

which remained a species of joy

not afforded me until it emerged


one muddy paw at a time

from wet hedges totally feral & unafraid

as if every night of its life

had come to me a man smoking

in a wet suit of clothes at the edge


of a weedy lot late at night

please it was 1991

& when I got home a property manager named Marcos

showed me the smallest apartment

in Freemont Nebraska

& spoke of the nuns who beat him


& made him recite poems every day

how every member of the chamber of commerce

mechanics bankers acrobats doctors

was out there

walking the streets with volumes of verse inside them &

no one would ever know

I had to ask him if he cared about it &


he said the bathroom skylight leaked

& that a man’s understanding

of his shortcomings will serve him nothing

don’t mistake it for humility


& the nail of his index finger

pointing at me was long & yellow

he was also a great guitar teacher

my guitar teacher

all that summer in careful script


on thin sheets of scientific grid paper

the girl who asked me about soup

sent me letters the last one came in

a pale green envelope


sealed with a sparkly palomino pony sticker

as if a message of encouragement or

warning it contained only a photograph of her

unsmiling with black marker


capital letters on the back

spelling out the underlined word:




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