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each man given a sequence
that must be followed
until the meaning 
becomes obvious
and the light is found

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Behind another fence, the small boy is crying again. The bigger children are teasing him because he calls for his p-p-papa and his m-m-mama in his sleep, because he wets his thin mattress while he clings to his toy clown.

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I wanted to stop and join the old Borrachos at their party, the one on the stoop. I wanted to, so badly, whatever cheap swill they had between them, whatever cheap tobacco in their hand rolled cigarettes, I wanted to stop and join them.

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Pam knew she wasn’t real. The calm, effective yoga studio manager that other people saw was a front she put up, “Guru Baba’s right-hand woman.” No one knew about her missing pieces, or the pills in her purse, waiting in a small plastic case.

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Ryōkan sd he never worked retail, but if he had
 
​— being a beggar is easier. 

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Things weren't the same as before, you didn't have to play nice anymore, you just played it loose, off the cuff.  Any trouble and you could ad-lib.  Bullshit was the new currency.  He'd already had that in spades, so he figured he was ahead of the game.

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Wouldn’t it be awful were you to chance upon a fishbowl
in which your only daughter morphs into some mermaid?
How would you go about rescuing her? Would rescue be
​worth the pursuit? She would swim there freely in denial

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This was a celebratory time for American culture, unless you happened to be Black. As viewers saw in Ken Burn’s documentary Jazz, musician Dave Brubeck recalls the return of his military outfit, his band, to their home base in Texas.

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I reckoned my twin brother was using a time machine when he died. He developed the thing at home, while on sabbatical from his job as a poetry professor.

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But those were empty meanderings, the
Solace of ruined moments and
Beatific outcomes, captured in thoriated
Aluminum cages, bound to the page with cheap tape

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I’m not copying the vocabulary words Miss Hiller squeaked out with her stub of white chalk. Instead, using my crayons, I’m drawing a picture of her inside the back cover of my phonics workbook. I’m going to name it “Hag-face Hiller, the Fourth-Grade Killer.”

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