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Selective Vision

These are my children, and
This is my life.
Rain against the picture window,
The little one asleep
On the couch with a fever.
There are no men cartwheeling
From one hundred stories up,
No acrid wind in the trees.
My boy cuts catalog pictures
For an alphabet book, looks
For his glue stick.  I warm
Coffee in the microwave.
There are no maps with escape routes
Stowed in the car, no
Discussion of anthrax saved
On my home computer.
A tower of laundry
Obscures what's down the pike.
I buy Halloween costumes
and methodically repeat, "These
Are my children and
This is my life."

          "They're all messed up"
          Police officer in Night of the Living Dead

I am wandering around the house
Like a wounded animal.
I'm eyeing the merlot
And it's only nine a.m.
My habitat's been knocked flat;
My familiars picked off
Like ducks in a shooting gallery.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Someone's an excellent shot.
Father, mother, marriage
And Joyce in the tower;
Four dead ducks in a row.
I flip the bird to the carnival crack-shot,
"Can't catch me you bastard."
Then somebody backs over
The Pekinese across the street.
Wailing over a dead dog,
I see I'm on my knees;
A game bird,
Down and full of buckshot
Like everybody else

The Score

I had people I loved
In those buildings;
A childhood friend, a cousin,
And Johanna's brother,
who bolted his desk
At the bank.
I suppose you'd say I'm lucky,
That two out of three
Ain't bad.
My cousin hitched a ride out
To Roxanne and the kids
In Garden City.
Michael, brother of Johanna,
Spent the holidays
At the Santa Fe homestead.
And Joyce, Joyce flew
Like a kamikaze cartoon
Down to the lobby
Of Tower Two
Or was crushed into dust
Under stacks of stairwell,
Where nobody she knew
Was waiting.
I'll consider us
Lucky when somebody
Can tell me
She never felt a thing.

Always Read The Insert
That Comes With Your Drugs

I have traded one little pill
For another and now
The kitten is "Striped Bastard"
And the children are screaming
Incubi, and the phone rings
With malicious intent, in cahoots
With the doorbell.
I'll be damned if I do
The "just a minute" jig,
With harmless lowered fists,
Another mad minute.
The new medicine's made
My next move clear:
Denny's with truckers by dawn, indulge
The wild urge west
For everybody's safety.
This is not a side effect,
I tell you, this
Is revelation.

Resistance is Futile

Everybody's dead here
At the house I grew up in.
Well almost; the daughter
Has nearly caught up. I dared
Not to miss you and
Look at the results.
Today the thermometer won't rise
Above freezing and I'm digging
Through your ugly Ethan Allen
Dresser for that old black one-piece,
To put on for the backyard.
How long will it take
To stop my heart, cease
The little crystalline puffs
From rising above
My blue lips? Out here
By the birdbath, the struggle
To be something other
Than dutiful is coming
To an end. In heaven
All will be as it should be;
I will jester on my cloud
Between the two of you;
Little clown; master distracter;
I know my place and I'm back
In it. Reclining flat
On a ratty towel I wait
To pick up where we left
Off; forgive, forgive
My foray away,
This ill-starred stretch
Toward the gears.
I will not switch, I'm
At your disposal,
No more dancing
For myself
In front of the mirror.
Did you miss me?
Did you miss me?
Oh god, dear god.
It's good to be
Back home.

M.J. Tenerelli

Mary Jane Tenerelli
Poet of the Year