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[Readings]

Spring Maneuvers

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By A. R. Ammons (1926–2001), from the Summer/Autumn 2012 issue of Chicago Review.

If one of these helicopters tried to put down in my yard,
the branches of my many maples would splinter the blades
into arpeggios or fluffy obbligatos and angle the copter

over so marines or other fatigued figures would spill
out of the square doors, eggs plopping out of seaturtles,
beads of caviar out of roe, peas out of pods, extrusions

out of extruders, sheep pills out of bleak arrangements,
and so forth: caught gangling in the branches or dipped
over to the ground by branches or dropped flawed on the

permafrost (winter still on track here) these fatiguées
might recover and come after me with rifles bored black
(are these guardians mostly ours?) and I would hide behind

the marble bench and flail them rotten with dead elm limbs
when they crept by, or I would jump back and forth behind
the elm trunk, marble bench, and brush heap and, making

flubbery sounds, attract them over, when I would bonk their
heads or astonish them with a gig in the crotch:
thump, thump, thump, thump the whirliwords are all over

the place today, jarring brook bottoms, but I don’t care:
when copters capsize in my high elmwork and leak
fatigued blood, I’m going to have little trenches, a million

light-years deep, grilled across my yard, each trench sloppy with
nits, jumpies, wigglies, and slick stickies that dissolve
brogans and reveal meatless anklebone: whatever

there is to be afraid of, I’m afraid of nothing:
I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be, perfectly, and
anything tried around here today is not likely to work out.

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January 2013