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Winter, 2003

John Swift


Moon and Market Street

Start out with the moon
on a crisp clear night
a reminder of the cool hills
still a bit wild.
Beyond the shrieking wheels of machinery
above the lunatic sirens reeling through the air
high and blue and silent
the deer are standing softly on the slopes
breathing gently in their warm deer bodies.
Plant that in your mind
when you walk out on the streets
and motorcycle cops whiz past
and well dressed businessmen
check out your shoes
and well stacked vampires
check out your hips
let the planted deer grow in your head
when you walk past grinding factories
and neon music halls
and bars spilling onto the sidewalk
and cautious eyes avoiding yours
and your eyes cautiously avoiding others
and the nervous self-conscious jerking of your head
and the hands crammed in pockets
let the deer graze unconcerned
when the foghorns blow at night
when the news report blackens the radio
when the papers daily print more paranoia
when big steel cars belch death in your face
when the moon can't be seen over the high-rises
when you can't bear to speak
to someone you loved just last week
when the one you trust lies to you
but you know it
keep the deer on the hills
keep the small crackle of frozen grass under their feet
keep the still memory of a fantastic world
that scampers lightly as a kitten
behind the suburban shopping coliseums
behind the sour smells of the afternoons
behind the monolithic heat of the robot years
keep the few remaining deer on the cool hills
still a bit wild.