for Gabe Gudding

Killing a chicken for dinner always prompted
A quarrel about who had to do it. Today

You can take tours of virtual slave ships.
Many people are drawn to the dead

On their holidays. Because of its abundance
A large section of Birkenau was named Canada.

You could get good boots there & sometimes
A silk shawl or a jar of pickled herring. But it was

In America that fake birds were first made
To attract native fowl. The most familiar kinds

Of camouflage make one thing appear to be two,
Two things one & so on. Camouflage artists

Make it an arduous challenge to see a figure
On a ground (blending) or to distinguish one

Category of object from another (mimicry).
Less familiar but far more effective is dazzle

Camouflage in which a single thing appears
To be a hodgepodge of disparate components.

At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the actors say
The audience always pays better attention

When it’s raining. Mother loved the sun,
She said, because its rays felt like ink to her

Fingers. Honestly I don’t understand many
People. But, Friends, if you plan on dying

By your own hand, don’t use pills. Swallowing
Is simply another way of marking time.


Mark Yakich‘s new poetry collection is The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine (Penguin Poets 2008). He lives in New Orleans. His website is

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