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Poetry by Rustin Larson

Russian Lullaby

A shot of vodka and a cup of espresso

legs nervous and walking all night

past the art galleries, some open

some closed with oil portraits

of screaming popes and the smoke

of patchouli incense escaping

windows from apartments above

the changing traffic signals

dance through the stops and buttons

of a mother-of-pearl saxophone solo

rain splash of cymbals and snare drum

piano like wet pavement lit

by the neon signs of bars

and package stores Plymouth rocking

all these pilgrims of macadam

a sedan of accompanying

sopranos cruising red skirts

and little shores with their barking

dogs shuffling through the ant mines

of discarded and glowing cigarettes

turmoil rent overdue and eyes

going blind as a power cut

to an airport at midnight

Fire and Brainstorms

Here is just another preview

from the green hymnal where birds sing

and corns grow. I came to Earth

with burning stuff and that Jesus

on the froth of chattering seas,

beautiful the stream of knows,

shared the income of our rise,

dew, all life, the women with the bread

and shots of whiskey instead of wine

and rocks in place of soft places

to kneel. There is a reminder to fill

out the black, shuffle to the left

or right, make room for your neighbors,

let in the light from the fresh air

windows, and write in black ink

in the black page journals, and be sure

to tell us who you are.

1956

Clarinet jazz refrain

like a team of prisoners chained

together at the ankles,

resurfacing the highway

in July.

Like a line of 1956 Oldsmobiles

waiting for the signal

to cross the bridge.

Then the birds come,

thousands of them.

You thought they were extinct,

but you were mistaken.

Deputies with ebony batons

march in step

on the gravel shoulder,

bright sun, no shade.

Then incongruently

there arises a fantasy

of Christmas carols, sleigh rides

and pies,

that mysteriously transform

into Take Me Out to the Ball game.”

Everyone wants to talk

to the woman

in the blue Olds,

even the prisoners,

though they are punished.

The woman adjusts her wine

red babushka

and puts on her sunglasses.

Rustin Larson

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