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January 2018, vol 13 no 4

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Autumn Noelle Hall & Michael H. Lester [both in Bold]

Of Two Minds

Funny what brings people together. The word Vietnam. A fading proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. Psychoses and self-doubt writ by critical fathers long dead. One minute, we’re strangers; and the next we’re exchanging lines of poetry –

two trains traveling
the same trajectory
out in that field
Rumi wrote about

From the crushing arms of one oppressor into the flaying arms of another – not knowing if we are on some destructive collision course or soon to fulfill our manifest destinies. This whirling planet – only gravity shields us from the centrifugal force that would otherwise jettison us into the man-made black holes of our invisible self-esteem.

two hamsters
spinning on a wheel
along with my head
Stupid and Worthless
the names my father called me

So many have deemed me crazy. So few have dared to reach inside, pull the gnawing beasties out, and hold them in cupped hands for me to see. Made pets of them, even, so I might laugh at their antics. Admitted they’ve a few pets of their own. . .

the goldfish
we flushed as children
round and round for years –
let’s call them Yin and Yang

Fields of poppies and bodies surround me, the former leaching the latter’s ripened red. Is this the before-and-after of the rest of my life . . . ?

refusing to conform
they find themselves –
bumps and scratches
acquired along the way
their most coveted badges

Lying amongst the poppies, they imagine the possibilities. Each feels the warmth of the other beside him. The rich fragrance of opium lulls them into a peaceful slumber, where they begin to dream each other's dreams. . .