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If you really want to know the spirit of the times
ask an illiterate orphan to read the headlines.
Let him ink up his finger, darken it even further
as he runs it along those bold, baffling symbols
of a world to which he has very few ties.
He might say “Boom-boom in the doom room.
The balaclava is back.” Or “Every second on the second
ghost city tours. See the poorest of the poor
see you by the light of their gleaming teeth.”
He might say, “Study the cunning of dawn.
For the spirit is too much free of form.”
If you want the real truth, choose an orphan
who doesn’t know where or when he was born
so he throws no shadow in the harshest of lights.
Choose one who sobs at every gift, at every
cut flower because he knows it is he . . .
Best to choose one, too, who can answer
his own questions, like “Where does all the sadness go,
the sadness never felt?” “Oh that. That gives
technology its inevitability. Its silver spurs and spark.”
Tanya Larkin is the author of My Scarlet Ways. She attended Columbia University and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Larkin's poems have appeared in Conduit, Quarterly West, and Ploughshares, among other publications.
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