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James D'Agostino

2020 Michelle Boisseau Poetry Prize finalist

Prairie Warble

Overlook the river from far enough 

away you first mistake the lit-up theater 

lot for water, when it would take its asphalt 

real recent rain to mirror polish purple 

dusk like that--through blue ash to hurt 

pink cuticle of horizon where the view  

rips in two from a pretty true tear 

of treeline. America’s got trouble 

with its key card so the weekend worker 

puts her bag and coffee, lunch and folders 

down to re-swipe and re-swipe until it 

looks like she’s touching up the A 

in Fuck America tagged onto the face 

of the Natural History Museum. It’s 

only natural, though, if history lets you 

out. From inside the old state capitol, 

the BLM spray-painted on the window 

must look in reverse like ML8 which 

if you say it enough starts to sound out 

immolate if it wants to, and homily if it 

must. Even the Streets and San sidewalk 

repair notation spray-paints specks 

into the epic. All those half hashtags 

on certain sections of cement to save 

leave us enough F’s to fuck the cops, 

find consonants in pavement cracks, 

and read the real duet of our disrepair, 

from our storm drains now loud


James D'Agostino.jpg

James D’Agostino is the author of the full-length collection Nude With Anything and chapbooks from Diagram/New Michigan, CutBank Books and Wells College Press. His chapbookGorilla by Jellyfish Light is forthcoming from Seven Kitchens Press. He teaches at Truman State University

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