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Maybe my confession could take place somewhere other than this dingy precinct,
maybe during a ticker tape parade, the backseat of a convertible on an overcast

autumn day amid the throng, among witnesses.  I could fill the beauty queen’s
ear with my secrets while the astronaut eavesdrops up front. 

You are known for lining your interrogations with cigarette embers. 
I am known for planting trees that will never bear fruit. 

I am fluent in this arid tongue, a screen door unlatched and barking at the wind. 
You grow winded from your work. 

Maybe I could deliver my confession like a cargo of shoes to the nuns
of a sub-Saharan convent.  I would like to know what I am accused of,

but knowledge is a luxury when you’re strapped to a chair. 
The lock of hair fallen across your eyes enrages you,

rage one of the few things that grows in size by cannibalizing itself. 
You like to perform a little black magic with battery cables. 

The confession is a narrative without end.  Requiring the simple fuel of threats,
it rattles on, a mix of poetic fact-starved mythology, forever, amen. 

Those with the keenest hearing feel compelled to wring speeches
from the willfully silent.  The rest of us they advise to keep our mouths shut.

Teaching Hospital

Squirming among those with their glaring
deficiencies, I alone remain untarnished,
the gleaming newborn wreathed in gold. 
Filthy prints befoul the holding tank,
our varied efflux, the hospital light softly savage. 

Test number one: whosoever among us
claws his way clear shall be saved.  But for all
my obvious perfection, the muscles of my arms
and legs don’t appear up to the task.  There’s
another child, obviously inferior, a cruel purple

splotch staining his cheek, who nonetheless
makes steady headway toward the precipice,
a nurse even stooping to offer encouragement
while I recline like some idiot sunbather,
basking in my demise, bronzing myself by it. 

You might ask about the mothers, but they’ve
long since been zipped up, dismissed.  The doctors
in their wrinkled frocks jostle and wager, dropping
bills on the stainless steel.  This is not the end of decency. 
It is merely a teaching hospital, or so I was told.  


Dan Pinkerton lives in Urbandale, Iowa.  Poems of his have appeared in Boston Review, New Orleans Review, Indiana Review, and Subtropics.  New work is forthcoming in Pleiades, Rhino, Barrow Street, and Canteen.