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Shuffle and Breakdown

Shuffle and Breakdown

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A first collection of poems from a finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize in 2005 and 2006.


I had the thought to create an elixir
(or really, a conjuring agent) in a giant mixer—
enough to summon a ghoul or two,
so that I might stop obsessing about you.

God, my co-pilot,
told me to file it
under “Ridiculous Ideas I’ll Soon Regret.”
But nothing else has worked, yet.


Because we don’t talk about how we feel,
The stars stay lit and islands keep afloat.

Because we view our lives as funny things,
We ignore Heaven and pray the phone rings.

Because lingering holds little appeal,
We leave without a hard word or a note.

Because the only man we know who sings
Is tracking us, we hide. But the song stings.

Cody Walker serves as a writer-in-residence at Seattle's Richard Hugo House. He also teaches English at the University of Washington and poetry through Seattle Arts and Lectures' Writers in the Schools program. His work appears or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry, Best New Poets, Shenandoah, Parnassus, Slate, Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, and Light.