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Tony Mancus

i cast / my lot / with you and you

from the future is different |all the ways we get | there from here

There's a man with a gun over there, telling me I've got to

get a better monday

news scythe, cycle.

the pills do all they can to us.

to each and every advertized beam
and borrowed bit of us.

i'll clean the dishes against their crusting and disease.

i'll wash my hands and harm again.
the building's bad crops.

the police
wearing riot gear
know their lives
will eventually stop, just

like the rest of us.

the bit and the borrowed crow.

the football watching stand-still crowd:
radio cheers and static

withheld love from their sons
more the daughters

some so much
that words and feelings
cement beside the pile of chicken bones

the pile of skin
recast as

limbs that break. i cast

my lot
with you and you

grow seams
deep in our hands.

the laughing lines sewn.
a crown of nettle. a cradle

the newspiece reinvents.
a fear we burrow. here, take
this hair

right off my head
and nest

here, it's better
tomorrow. i wake up

light swarming,
my foot a cold
dead thing.

the thought of you
going to work
on me.

what it takes
to measure
each shot

shut out
before the barrel,
the shout-aftered trigger.

one king of the stares,
the stars, to climb up
the kingdom
it dwells with—

donkeys and diamonds
and elephant reared

to be
nearly the same
repeating silence

sets the distance
between dollar and

job blown back
again. here, crying

and here,
the point of scurry. sure
to get away with it.

the pills have done their worst within us.

i wake up against the body
of my future
child, her fever dripping.

a cat cradled
in sixteen
folded needles, a freeze
on spending,

needless i sit among desks
each day
meeting my face

in the screen
and a hand
full of almonds.

this dream
we're told
is so

effective you
can't really settle
down, you miss
most of

the point
when looking
straight at it.

this dream
all the time
grins here, now.

i wake up again.
the hold, choking
from the breath
of the morning

and no
the nationals won't
play dead forever

i know the water is
only temporary in its form
and distress. watch

my hands move
your body. the distance
between fingers measured

and crushable, the pills
have done the best
of things to us. a single
single siren

blares. the sound
between what is
a cry
like a child

and what is
a crowd
of onlookers
high together
with breathing blurs

where many adults
have carried their lunches
back to town
and their foregone lariats

identity equal to what
part they perform
as written round their neck

how long
and for how many
how much
and for whom
the bully
the fold
before it becomes

I wake up again.
the fact of my face

how it digs
in lines
and mirrored

missing the system
you game until it gets you

until it gets
you pilled
and faceless
up against the building.

Tony Mancus is the author of a handful of chapbooks, most recently City Country (Seattle Review) and Again(st) Membering (Horse Less Press). In 2008, he cofounded Flying Guillotine Press with Sommer Browning and he currently co-curates the In Your Ear reading series in Washington D.C. with Meg Ronan. He lives with his wife Shannon and three yappy cats in Arlington, VA.