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I Will Sing the Monster to Sleep And He Will Not Need Me

In memory of Toni Keller



Late at night, unable to sleep, I let my body guide me down

the dark stairs, the night pressing from all sides.  Why not

just trace the words burned remains on a cold glass

of milk, and then, with eyes closed, down it.  The white

cross at the edge of the park bears only the word TONI,

already fading.  In the photo, his face appears as common

as stale bread, tossed at a Canada goose.  On top of a stuffed

bear, another’s burden, I place three late October sunflowers.

So this face, one of our own, is the source of the sleepless

gnawing at the edge of lampshade.  Note my patient avoidance

of his name, age, address, smell of his flesh.  As if a broken

sonnet could say one of our own, and erase all trace

of owned confusion.  I keep turning back to the sunflower

tattoo on your chest, Toni, letting the petals press from all sides.

John Bradley