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Picnics Gone Bad

Saint Paul, 8 October 2007
After re-reading Richard Hugo's
The Real West Marginal Way

Your autobiography explains
references to picnics gone bad
I imagine you an unsuspecting boy
with your comatose granny
too brittle for precocious children
bitterly pushing you on a swing
until rusty playground pendulums
become bellows swallowing up grief
in protracted but indifferent sighs

Yellow jackets that ruined your apple
and red ants that stung your calves
have long since taken cover
before it pours buckets dissolving
scotch tape from granny’s temple curls
the old bag might hurtle you cloud-ward
from her doddering arthritic claws
instead you both acknowledge
that the picnic is over