Jasper Johns, Map,  1961. Oil on canvas. 6' 6Liberal, Kansas

Just outside this misnomer,
so many migrant workers dot the fields.
Outside the National Beef slaughterhouse,
a matron in polka dots laughs
as she hugs her daughters,
then the bent and balding father.
Far away in the capitol, a city of cubicles and angry poets,
in this city,
a man called Brownback carefully assassinates
the budget, the tallgrass, the painters, anyone brown
or on food stamps. He says it’s like surgery.

He says it’s like a shot of adrenaline
administered directly to the heart.

Earth Took of Earth

A young rabbi bleeds. A woman yawns
in a brothel. Deer shoot across the way,

near miss. A white flag. Evening’s blue hair.
Babies and ripe tomatoes in late October.

Jesse Nathan’s poems appear in the American Poetry Review, jubilat, the Literary Review, and elsewhere. He was born in Berkeley, grew up in rural Kansas, and lives now in San Francisco.

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