Summer 2000 • Vol. XXII No. 3/4 Poetry |

Flicking the Switch

For J. M. After twelve manhattans we thought he'd just pass out, but instead found him flipping   the lawn lights in a pattern only he understood, sending messages to the hill rising   behind our house that sent back messages of its own, those erratic fireflies suddenly   starting up as he kept flicking the switch, which made those of us who were   somewhat sober look intently at each other and then at the man whose brain   was about to explode within a matter of months, not one word out of his mouth about the sensitive skin or strict   diet, not one syllable about the hair   dropping in clumps, the nights he cannot love, just this standing alone in what   was dark while the rest of us gathered   on the porch to watch his fingers turning the night on, off, on, on, on.

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Len Roberts's two most recent books of poetry, The Trouble-Making Finch (1998) and Counting the Black Angels (1994), were published by the University of Illinois Press. His book of translation, Selected Poems of Sándor Csoóri, was published by Copper Canyon in 1992.

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