Winter 2012 • Vol. XXXIV No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 2012 |

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The blues pianist's bleeding hands trace calligraphy on the keys.   This too is art. And the rabbi's prayer on the killing floor. Ritual slaughter is known as shechita. The knife is called a chalef.   In Samoan, ta means to strike, and hence tattoo, And the attendant percussion of wooden implements.   This too is music. And the double paradiddle Of ordnance in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in the penal colony   The harrow writes on a man until he is dead: The tip of a large iron needle had gone through his forehead.   You hold a book serenely in your hand: it is a gift, It is techne, many human lives have been grotesquely crushed   so that you may sit quietly with it in your chair While the cat purrs in the crook of your arm. Outside,   moonlight lays down its pentatonic line. The bright chisel of language descends in your brain.   This too is an instrument. This too is a tool. 

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T. R. Hummer’s tenth book of poems, Ephemeron, was published by LSU Press in November 2011; his second book of essays, Available Surfaces, will appear in University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry Series in 2012. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and teaches at Arizona State University.

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