Shirts or Skins, a 2014 poetry chapbook by Jim Redmond

You’ve Seen

You’ve seen
what they told you
to see

inside of the shine box.
A man’s lean living
neatly arranged

by another. What’s
been left behind.
Placed under the bed.

A hard seam of lightning
in the white sheets,
a slow curl of smoke.

Flipped open
the empty matchbook,
you thought there is

a small magic still here.
You’ve held with soft hands.
You’ve touched on the statue

and touched
on yourself
this same place

at the funeral.
A minor stigmata
healed over with No Exits.

You sang Soon I Will Be Done
because they told you to
sing, that he liked that song.

To make sense …
To make sense you’ve made
yourself even smaller.

You’ve gathered
the five snakes
of his past

in a bucket; enough
from here to eternity,

and each its own baptism.
Bed down, almost

to you. Bent
toward each, a wet
opening, an

slid out of
an old story

you want to speak,
and be spoken, without
getting bit,

the way the shine box
speaks a whole life
worth of shoes and sweat

and down
at the knee, so clear

can see your own
face, like your father’s
in another man’s

boot, but none
of these

that venom
just yet.


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