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Against Forgiveness

In this life, nothing
need be forgiven. Not
the streetlights’ high murmur
or the rattle of shopping carts

windblown across the parking lot.
Not the skir of asphalt
worn to gravel. For what
could be better? This slow

fade of sidewalk weeds,
the sky’s dingy light
spread like a rag over the faux
terracotta roof tiles

of the strip mall liquor store—
its sad neon wink,
its inventory of forgetting—as a boy
with spiked hair and choke chain

collar waits outside
for a buyer, and none of it calling
anything into question.
So what is this need you have

to ask why you still can’t
remember the name of a lover
you had once who could only
come in the backseat of your car,

who knew then that whatever
your thoughts of heaven
by now they’d be long
unutterable. Go ahead.

Take the money. No need
to remember. Buy him a fifth
of whatever’s cheap. Pocket
the change and keep walking.
Posted 03/18/10
Originally appeared in Mid-American Review, Spring 2009
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