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Brad Liening



The Age of Quarrel


The bird hops into the crocodile's mouth,
just some routine cleaning, but root canal

globalization means we've outsourced
the labor so here's your ticket with extra-

appended costs owing to quintupling
oil expenditure indices. O quintupling,

will you ever stop? That would be
like asking your own blood to stop.

A bird in a crocodile's mouth is the shape
of your blood whether you know it or not.

It's the shape of a camouflage helicopter
banking over the sand dunes squiggled

with wind and snakes, your biggest
mistake like a small lark clinging

to a stunted tree, singing for its mate.
In the bog, a damp bomb. In the bog,

a deep green dream. In the bog, your
secrets are kept like tiny skulls but only

for a time, but you may be safe anyway
as uh our attention spans are uh getting

ummm. The president makes some big changes
that are immediately negated by the next,

but then the next un-negates everything
and is subsidized by private benefactors,

unreadable acronyms, lobbying blocs
for toilet paper run angel-softly amok.

Funny then that angels are God's ugly enforcers,
wielding fiery swords, destroying cities,

keeping the riff-raff out of gardens, stuff
you read about back when you did things

like read, before you got a lot of bright gadgets
and were told to vote out that old batch

of bad slick fat cats so the next could step in
with their beautiful promises like the sunset

over the block of windowless buildings,
the sign on the back of your ticket stub.


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Brad Liening's Best Poetry Books of 2011 selections