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Les Kay

Orientation (Oil at Midnight)

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They have carved
plans from calla lilies,
carnations. We have

learned to adore
strictures, the "I"
in "failure," Smithson.

Do we exist?

It has been written,

recorded; and so it is.
We anticipate spells—
growing longer—of silence.

We may be stricken
from the record.
Welcome to the Bureau.

Lullaby Her Wanton Will

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Dogs bark back to her in tongues.
Crystals of Bliss burn through her septum,
blood Rorschachs her teal blanket.
According to the Bureau's report on grey-
market fungus, corn keeps losing kernels,

I stripped for seven months in South
Dakota where the dust storms keep
the lighting low and the rent warm.

The Bureau claims this is normal,
not prohibitive. Our city slicks.
Sheens of baby oil lighten
the blacktop streets. We taste
infinity and rush to the restroom,
hoping we don't make a mess.
Permeable, we remember.

We met at a freak show in Pierre.
I left my accent in a change purse;
the funhouse did a barrel roll.

She can't eat mushrooms anymore
unless they're sautéed with canola oil.
The Bureau claims this is normal,
not prohibitive. I can't eat anymore.

Our chemise tastes of tarmac;
crystals cut teeth. I sing to myself;
you hear notes form in your throat.

Some crops won't make it this year;
pigs snort out truffles. The Bureau's
dog, a collie, is learning Spanish in
spurts. They haven't found a sponsor
yet, though the check is in the mail.

The File Cabinet

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The intern stroked a bluebird,
rolled it, then lit the beak afire.
After arrest, her cell collapsed
around her like porcelain hands
wrapped in weeping prayer.

I've begun since then to consume
quarterly reports with a tank of nitrous
by my side. Afterwards, I see her cell
in dream, painted gold and vermillion.
Hues seep through the forebrains of guardsmen.

When I volunteered to try Bliss,
a synapse misfired. I'm sure.
Gulls severed the throats of gnomes.
Mottos crawled from scrolling screen
beneath the live feed. They have not
left me since. I clutch bold
white Helvetica font like the teddy
my brother beheaded when I turned ten.

The Bureau keeps us safe.

As Handsome as a Sewing Machine

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"Satan" has been named as our new CFO.
We are assured this is a typo.
But I have seen his legs and am unconvinced.
Rimbaud disagrees, and espouses the good
in all Simian beings. Of course, he stopped
writing at 19, so his memos in the obligatory
Navajo sound more like the pop songs nowadays
that teens play at deafening decibels.

Still, he's taken my desk in marketing.
This weekend the Bureau issued an edict:
Rimbaud awaits my arrival. I once had children
to bid farewell to, but the Bureau has begun
Beta testing of memory implants, and I may
have been chosen. Near the water cooler,
I see her standing with her shadow of scarf,
and I long for a cigar. I pause to tell her my
name, but discover that it hasn't yet been written;
we falter with hand signals until the coffee break
whistle chirrups like a cell phone. I have not peed
and the shadow was teasingly coy. In the distance,
I can see retirement like the corona of the sun,
revealed to me only in these moments when shadow
covers all. At times, I suspect I have been in love,
but now I love the Bureau, yes now I love the Bureau.

In the hallway between cubicles, no one asks why
I am weeping. It is not uncommon here.
I run into Stan and say hello. I explain that I cannot
introduce myself. He pats my shoulder like a fine CFO,
leans into my ear and blows, the name is Satin.

Taste Ferments

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The clouds liquid tumult
distilling unforeseen dimensions: I
am rendered useless as an old lover's letter.
Pleading chords burn like lemon.

Over boutique sandwiches, detergent fouls
my stomach. Still, still. Stunted growth,
grumbling in the conference room where
once we undid our Welsh friend with a long
miasma of frank conversation, He's better off,
etcetera. Heating valve warmth no longer
lingers beneath watercress values.

The blue light stays constantly lit
despite the dizziness of what life becomes.
We are lame dunces. Paltry offers flame
nostrils like Clorox. Boston ivy pries
apart the windows in Pierre. Solstice.
We almost hear the chlorophyll lament.

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