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Poetry By
  Matt Kolbet

Published on: 2/15/2013
Elder Wars

I imagine the elderly denizens of Astor House
compete with the Spring River Retirement Home
in more than longevity. They stare at one
another, seeing death in the hoods of each
other's eyes, counting heirs and inheritance.
When it rains, the minutes split as slowly as hairs.
The old women smile when I visit, ask me my dad's
age, calculating averages in their world, ask me
to put in a good word because between angiogram
and x-ray there are so few. Easy promises fall
from my lips, the leprosy of language, but I never
confess how little it all means. No, nor how in
the picture of my father's tumor I saw my son.

Published on: 2/14/2013
Absences on Thursday

David and Crystal were gone,
will probably drop the class,
though they didn't say anything
on Tuesday. Kandis was gone,
couldn't find a babysitter.
(I might hire myself out)
Holly was gone, but she wrote,
to meet with her cardiologist.
(These messages we send to
each other, letters substituted
for the beating of our hearts).
Launa was late, as usual.
Kassie was present, primarily
in complaints. She held a hand-
drawn sign asking for food.
(I ignore it, remind them we are
hear to learn how to be stronger
readers, to be ready for classes,
that we have the rest of our lives
to be eaten).

Published on: 2/13/2013
Father's Day

There is eager fear being the
son of an important man—
nothing so boring as inheritance
nor as banal as assassination.
Even as time defeats him,
he seems important, debated
by interlocutor memory—
Wikipedia page, open to editing,
to glory in flimsy digital retention.
Life no longer waits in the inkwell.

The old man points to his reputation,
flaunts lovers: no lingering in lingerie.
He promises that another time
I might stay, the gain of someday.

But Hell's anonymity, like the knot of
the letter q, does not translate well.
When you have a life sentence, every-
one wants to see the next phrase:
There are days when I forget moral
reprisal and think I'll have to kill him.

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