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You’re the shadow shadow lurking in me

and the lunatic light waiting in that shadow.

Ghostwriter of my half-life, intention’s ambush

I can’t prepare for, ruthless whammy

you have me ogling a blinding sun,

my right eye naked even with both lids closed—

glowering sun, unerring navigator

around this darkened room, you’re my laser probe,

I’m your unwilling wavelength,

I can never transcend your modus operandi,

I’ve given up trying to outsmart you,

and the new thinking says I didn’t invent you—

whatever you were to me I’ve outgrown,

I don’t need you, but you’re tenacity embodied,

tightening my skull, my temple, like plastic wrap.

Many times, I’ve traveled to a dry climate

that wouldn’t pander to you, as if the great map

of America’s deserts held the key to a pain-free future,

but you were an encroaching line in the sand,

then you were the sand. We’ve spent the best years

of my life intertwined: wherever I land

you entrap me in the unraveled faces

of panhandlers, their features my features—

you, little death I won’t stop for, little death

luring me across your footbridge to the other side,

oblivion’s anodyne. Soon—I can’t know where or when—

we’ll dance ache to ache again on my life’s fragments,

one part abandoned, the other abundance—

– Gail Mazur

Photo by Sean Servis

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