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James O’Malley, suit-and-tied

even by a white sand beach,

sat well-starched with phone surfside,

shooting cuffs (the world in reach)

calling clients each by each

punching buttons with aplomb

stuffing voice-mails with stiff speech.

Alas, they none of them were home:

they spied his number and preferred

a root canal or broken thumbs

to more whereases and whereofs

or pendent clauses framed by “such”

and laid their bright devices down,

spooning up crème fraiche with peach.

Along the shore then came a Fool

with tangled hair and lurching gait

who gestured with unfocused gaze

(drunk or crazed could not be told)

and looked upon O’Malley’s face

then squatted there and dropped a turd

and grinned disjointedly; and bowed,

and went his way. Leaving poor James

agape at blasted rules: displeased

at that disorderly brief phase.

Uneasy who was properly the fool.

Uncertain if he heard

(or if he could) faint birdsong

from a distant golden wood.

The Federal Poet, Vol. LXXIV No. 2 (Fall 2016); reprinted in Man Overboard (2018)

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