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The Little Stairs of Z

 
 
 
   The little cartoon Z’s above my head,
   I’m about to fall asleep, to climb
   them well beyond the borders
   of my cartoon cloud, when I hear
   the first horse huff and stamp its foot.
 
   It is the Palomino, Sailor Boy,
   dead for twenty years. Then not only horses
   but the snails I met in Assisi, so small they climb
   the blades of grass. And then the boxer
   I carried up steps all her life, all her life
 
   the front right leg never healing.
   What is the sun you’ve made of yourself
   she asks, and all the animals stand waiting.
   With the rile of the calves brought to the slaughterhouses
   of my childhood. With the monkeyish cat, leukocytes
   amok like mice.
 
 
 

David Keplinger is the author of five collections of poetry, including the forthcoming Another City (Milkweed, 2018), The Most Natural Thing (New Issues, 2013), and The Prayers of Others (2006). He has been awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Colorado Book Award, the Cavafy Prize, and other honors. He has also published three volumes of translations, most recently The Art of Topiary (from the German poet Jan Wagner), and House Inspections (from the Danish poet Carsten Rene Nielsen).