from The Threshing Floor
Thomas Kane


When to ask their forebear:

Were thieves present

only to lick at your wounds?


Will they rummage

our pockets, wear our killing

dresses? Because


you, Romulus, would eat

your brother’s eyes

for a ruby and for a crow,


will we?—Sleeping,

the collar is undone and kept

far from the mouth.


It is Easter, 1967.


are the ways we keep from teething.


Sometimes, it is to imagine

each swan,

perfectly curved. Sometimes


we scold

the shadow for bidding

against the hand. 



The windfall brings

your progeny, brings

the frayed rope left behind


by a stevedore, chewed through

by his part wolf.

What we keep to our pockets


is, itself, a story. At dinner,

it is thumbed,

away from the eyes. On the train,


it is set first in Alaska, set

again in Baltimore. It is what we hate

most in ourselves.


I will never be much good

to the gold miners. I will never

save a part wolf. I can,


but should never, own a knife.

The train’s bathroom leaks

our stories to the track. The bridge-


water glows and, somewhere,

a beekeeper glows also, knowing,

to the day,


when his flock will die. He leaves them

a lantern

as apology.




The pretty girl cleans in her sluice.

The cripple wears

his Halloween mask. How else


might we be undone by this book?

East of Eden

is Winterhaven, Florida, a boxcar


full of tinsel. Who would

bathe in tinsel over orient dew

but the cripple and the pretty girl?


Where else but here? Until

suddenly, the stonemason delivers on

his angel. The gymnast


does not retard her legs.

The piccolo!

The virgin calf!


We are okay learning everything

again. The baroque! The art

of carving its haunches!


We play children’s games

on the beach,

in the cavity on the beach.