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John Repp  





                    Burning the Dictionary


As I dug a hole for the dictionary,

memories dry as baked balsa wood

stacked themselves near the clothesline

where blue sheets billowed in the June sun.


The soil was black & cool. The farmer

who rents the field sowed corn

last year & will next, but now,

green chaos covers the acreage.


I have always enjoyed the contemplative

music a shovel plays in topsoil. None of this

is mine, not even the cords of memory

ranked for so long past the barn


all the way up the hill. Being balsa,

they kept threatening to lift off.

I dug the hole big enough

to hold everything else I needed


to offer up—postcards, refrigerator notes,

seven cassette tapes & a souvenir t-shirt.

If prayer is listening, I have heard,

now & then, something inhuman.


“God” is a syllable I utter when no other fits.

On a day like this last week, I implored “Him”

to dry my tears, but the breeze soothed me.

It may have taken hours. The green


in which I lay was cold & damp

when I stood. After I chucked

the shovel like a spear, I filled the hole—

millions of all-but-nonexistent


splinters, then the ridiculous remnants

of ten years, then the book—lit a match

& watched the fire burn. Past midnight,

everything ash at last, I shoveled the hole smooth


& now yearn for silence even as it soothes me. 


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