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Tom Snarsky

Average Life

Running at you with hedge clippers

is a language you no longer know

how to act surprised at

The grammar puts dates in your mouth

& forces you to chew them

slowly (then quicker, then slower again)

I’d be willing to be distracted

by death if you’d just shut up

and stop asking me how love is

supposed to develop when no one

lamb seems any more polite

than the others, or any more likely

to wander off—

if there is a conversant dark-

ness creeping up in what I’ve said so far

I hope I can experience it

with you breathing

down my neck

the whole time



Let’s trade evils:

I forget every feeling

& stumble into strange midnights

where quotation doesn’t work

the way I’m used to so I try

to quote my friends & only darkness

comes out

It forms a giant heap

in the middle of the floor

& doesn’t take questions

It does have that mysterious in-

different look that makes it kind

of attractive but un-

less you’re drunk or brave or very

different from me you

will probably just

gaze at it

keep your distance

& leave it be


Poem with Last Line by Emad Matti

Every year of my life so far I’ve looked up

young artists who died

by suicide

when they were that many years

old. I hold them

in my head for one revolution

at a time, & then I graduate

to a different decisionmaker.

It helps, I think. A balance be-

tween maudlin & honest. It keeps

perspective close at hand, here

where, at the end of our mild day,

the death angel is coming for us all


Tom Snarsky teaches mathematics at Malden High School in Malden, Massachusetts, USA.

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