There are words for what numbers
can contain, words for songs

I don't know because I grew up
in a country that played

Top 10 hits months after they'd 
been replaced by the the next 

and the next and yet the next list. 
But I remember waking up late 

nights, my father laughing
alone in his bathrobe at a joke 

in a Bob Hope show, the grainy
black and white light from the TV. 

Sometimes the past feels like a joke 
timed wrong, the punchline only 

coming clear too long after.
There's nothing tangible

left of that home we inhabited—
the walls have been knocked down

like sets and the deeds have changed 
hands. The present is still raucous 

as vaudeville, or extravagant with drama: 
clumsy actors stepping into wet cement, 

falling on their knees; raising their eyes 
to a tarpaulin sky as a calliope whistles 

a carnival song, not quite drowning 
the sounds of funerals and thunder.


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