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Summer Marriage, for Jon Veinberg, by Gary Soto

June 04, 1995

Rage is a pay cut for the same work,

A stripped bolt

And motor oil leaking into your one good eye.

The fan belt hanging from a dog's mouth.

The white root poking through clay plumbing

And the toilet backing up,

A flood of skunk water hitting the tile floor.

Rage is the snowy TV,

The blistered thumb frozen to empty ice cube tray.

The birth of five kittens in a detergent box

A parrot spitting seed at its shiny bell.

The child's crying hatred for his eyeless teddy.

Through all this,

Through the day that was a hammer of heat,

I'm happy with my iced tea and slaughtered lemon.

So is my friend, swallowing slivers of ice.

It's hot somewhere inside our river

Of blood. It's hot and we're too close to argue.

We're letting our neighbors do this for us.

The wife stomps down the steps,

This time with only one suitcase,

Handle torn and carrying it like a child.

Last week she had two suitcases and a shoulder bag.

This week perhaps there is less to carry away,

A few dresses and scraped-to-their-nails shoes.

The screen door slams,

And I slam a gnat in my ear,

A cause and effect on a hot night

When every third house breaks into a vicious sweat.

From "New and Selected Poems" by Gary Soto. (Chronicle Books: $12.95; 177 pp.) 1995 Reprinted by permission.

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