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His Induction

By
October 1, 2012

Spit you have to spit in the face of every writer who knocks on the door with his
teacup says I’m sorry sir may I have your permission to write sir you have to spit.

—M.

My oath is I’ll die with my hand on the oxford bible

My president’s name on my tongue like the last town I sacked

I’ll fall on my sword so well I’ll put rome to shame

I’ll wait for your donkeys to crazy and trample me home

Your men will tattoo my face on their feet when they wardance

Your women will stitch my name in their linens and soil them

Each town you name in my honor you’ll name smithereens

Each elm you plant me will wilt me a portrait of leaves

And when it’s your turn to kiss the rings of the bone thief

And when manhattan is dross and piled with grave goods

I’ll death so well they’ll say dying is ripping me off

I’ll finger my name on your tongue like it was your first born

G

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Author Image

Danniel Schoonebeek was born in the Catskills. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Fence, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, The Awl, Publishers Weekly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He hosts the Hatchet Job reading series in Brooklyn and is associate editor at PEN America.

Author’s note: “His Induction” comes from a collaboration with poet Osip Mandelstam, who died in 1938.

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