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Dawn Potter

Whatever it is

it is not anything that would matter to you it is

not broad and daunting like mountains or sky

not cunning or sweet or childlike it is not tragic

or strange not well rendered or careful or more

intelligent or better informed it knows nothing

about history or logic it is not what it wants to be

when it grows up not what you want to be either

it is not better at remembering or forgetting it does not

choose fancier words or make fine political

hay it does not belong to the club does not exercise

daily does not read the works of proust aloud

does not control its appetites does not have sex

in all of the positions or sing in tune or play

the piano it cries in bus stations and the doctor’s

office it cannot tell just one lie it tells dozens and

all of them are obvious it forgets to wash the dishes

it is too fat for those pants it mutters to itself

in the grocery store it smells funny and other people

look away it is wrong it does not beg it does not smile

it does not say excuse me or may I help it is

the last one picked for the team it is older

than everyone else in class it hides under the stone

unturned it sleeps till noon it cannot speak any

language except television it is the also ran the amateur

mourner the bald one with the small tick lodged

in its ear the leftover ham drying out on the plate

it is the body found when the hotel collapses what

the mailman forgot to deliver it assumes the worst

it is not hungry it is the wallflower at the dance

with the bomb under its dress it cannot change its ways

Self-Portrait as Memorandum

Dear sir I request

attention to whom it

may concern which is

my concern dear sir

dear colleague I beg

a favor I suggest a strategy:

Destroy after reading

in re my thoughts

I attach a graph

kindly do not photocopy

dear sir dear sir

I am your obedient servant:

I beg you to reconsider

do not forward

for your eyes only I request your

presence your signature your

identification code

do not repeat:

Remain prudent

highlight in three colors

file under routine

under top secret under

to be shredded

dear sir:

I lie upon your blotter

fold me

spindle me

you know

they are listening at the door:


Dawn Potter is the author or editor of nine books of prose and poetry—most recently the poetry collection Accidental Hymn. A finalist for the National Poetry Series, she has also won a Maine Literary Award for nonfiction and has received grants and fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Writer's Center, and the Maine Arts Commission. Her poems and essays have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, the Sewanee Review, the Threepenny Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and many other journals in the United States and abroad. Dawn directs poetry and teaching programs at the Frost Place as well as the high school studio writing program at Monson Arts. She lives in Portland, Maine.


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