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Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2011-05-31.

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024415/00001

Material Information

Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2011-05-31.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Creator: Styles, Todd
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Statement of Responsibility: by Todd Styles.
Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Logan, William.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2011-05-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024415:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024415/00001

Material Information

Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2011-05-31.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Creator: Styles, Todd
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Statement of Responsibility: by Todd Styles.
Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Logan, William.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2011-05-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024415:00001


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1 ANONYMOUS HUMAN SHAPES By TODD STYLES A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR TH E DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009

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2 2009 Todd Styles

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3 T o my parents and i n memory of Lois Whatley

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank William Logan for his patience and thoughtful critique, and for helping me overcome my aversion to com plete sentences and semi colon s. I give thank s to my committee members Michael Hof man n and Marsha Bryant and t o Rodney Jones for invaluable mentoring during my undergraduate career. I thank Georgia for her companionship. Finally, I offer thanks to my f ellow writers in the MFA program fo r their time and support.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT .....................................................................................................................................7 FINISHING ON THE ROAD ...........................................................................................................8 ELDERLY MAN .............................................................................................................................9 WITNESSES ..................................................................................................................................10 A BRIEF HISTORY OF FLIGHT .................................................................................................11 ON RECEIVING A COPY OF THE FIRST AND LAST FREEDOM ...........................................12 A WINTER MISTRAL..................................................................................................................13 THE SLEDDING HILL ................................................................................................................14 PRAYER FOR JIM MORRISON .................................................................................................15 THE PICTURE ..............................................................................................................................16 HAMLET AT WITTENBERG ......................................................................................................17 LOOKING .....................................................................................................................................18 PHOTOGRAPH: THE SHUTTLE LANDING, 1983 ...................................................................19 FLOWER SHOPPING IN JULY ..................................................................................................20 THREE TREES, THREE MOONS ...............................................................................................21 HOUSES ........................................................................................................................................22 ODE TO A COUSIN .....................................................................................................................23 SELF PORTRAIT .........................................................................................................................24 105 ................................................................................................................................................25 FREUD IN OLD AGE ...................................................................................................................26 THE PAINTED CHURCH ............................................................................................................27 ELEGY FOR A PET RAT .............................................................................................................28

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6 VERTIGO ......................................................................................................................................29 A VIGIL .........................................................................................................................................30 LOCA SANCTA ............................................................................................................................31 RETURN ........................................................................................................................................32 TO MY FATHER ..........................................................................................................................33 HYLAS IN FLORIDA...................................................................................................................34 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................................35

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7 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requi rements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts ANONYMOUS HUMAN SHAPES By Todd Styles May 2009 Chair: William Logan Major: Creative Writing The poems that make up this thesis concern themselves with the remoteness of the complete and the murkiness of the not yet fully formed T hey waver with the young betwe en iconoclasm and nostalgia ; they struggle with the aged to discover a sustaining myth ; they record the encounter s of both with death. These poems aim to test, with humor and irony the malleability of our contours Many of them are necessarily concer n ed with art and o ur always tentative relationship to it; others explore the interrelationship of the quotidian and the t ranscendent. My hope is that t hese poems and the human shapes in them evince in some small way Rilkes premonition: that from far off, wi th scattered Things ,/ a serious, true work were being planned.

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8 FINISHING ON THE ROAD I too had just gotten over a serious illness I won't bother to talk about weary splitup, similar funereal feeling an anxiety or laziness that had kept me from com pleting the crumbling paperback, its sour bouquet of lemon and construction paper always petering out somewhere in Denver or New York, though I was still in "great green Illinois," as Kerouac invokes it, a minor Midwestern deity barely mentioned. How much better, then, to hear it read aloud by Matt Dillon, eleven hours on discs fed periodically to the dash, now that I had hitched my Nissan to the deadest star over all of America, gone south in search of fleshier pastures, ever hotter climes. The entire scroll unraveled down the interstates of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia: Dean riding shotgun, inviting me to dig this and that; Carlo Marx, in his bathrobe, in the back seat: Todd, why you leaving her behind? What you going to do in Florida? What 's a handsome cat like you doing driving down there all alone? Moving on, I stopped only to eat or wait out a storm in towns sad and identical: a litter of fastfood joints; video rental stores; and shattered, weedy parking lots with which I shared at most a burger, a cigarette at dusk, and thought, not of those conning, caricatured outlaws from a time when speed limits were less rigidly enforced, but of friends who took shorter trips, married now, moved away all of us rooted and isolate, in an exha usted land.

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9 ELDERLY MAN A mong the small tables brimming with laptops and prim coeds doing Bible study, the man with the blue brimmed hat and walker, most likely a veteran of one or more wars, is eating dinner. His wife shrinks before him, obs cured by napkins. She squeaks from behind her wax papered tray and colorful soup. He holds his hands in his lap. I think it is not merely stubbornness that he continues to survive, not just the nourishment at this counterfeit caf, but his tender duty to chaperone her to the grave. If she vanished now, if the hunched shoulders, late buds of wings, sprouted at last, I think he would stand up without his walker and put on his hat, grab the kid from behind the counter and say, "I know this is no Frenc h bakery! I am aware of this injustice!" and then head off into the dark.

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10 WITNESSES Policemen feed a spool of yellow tape around the perimeter of a motel parking lot; detectives in brown suit coats sip coffee and scan the shattered p anes, an unnumbered door splintered and pocked. Men in boxers and ragged socks, women in faded nightshirts printed with cartoon characters lean from the doors of rooms they have rented for a few hours, a night at most, as if they have lived here their en tire lives, as if the anonymous human shapes protruding through the zippered bags wheeled past were neighbors of a decade or more. With such authority they harangue the officers, spelling proudly, drunkenly, their names, the excitement such that they fo rget the bag of pot or line of coke visible on the nightstand, forget that they are probably wanted, wanted precisely because they are unwanted All the while, spiral pad and pen in hand, the detectives, quite hot now in their coats and ties, listen through the rambling for the simple clue. And you, with your clean record, your empty files, your fat, green lawn and friendly neighbors, you who saw and heard even less you will not even be questioned.

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11 A BRIEF HISTORY OF F LIGHT The boy Icarus spread his ceraceous wings, cleared the ledge, and popped like shot skeet across the rocky shore. General Zhuge Liang released a flock of buoyant candelabra to frighten the enemy. Ibn Firnas, gliding from the Mount of the Bride, snapped his back upon landing. A crater of the moon is named for him. Kitty Hawk, Red Baron, Earhart, Enola Gay. We pop a Lorazepam and read beneath our cone of light. Da Vincis sketches went untested, but his Vitruvian Man emblazoned Skylab 3, whose cargo of fruit flies died in a power outage.

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12 ON RECEIVING A COPY OF THE FIRST AND LAST F REEDOM I think first of a turtle crawling through grass and then how I might go forever without reading this, or carry it with me in a satchel at my wa ist, vow never to open it; or, like a Roshi, rip and throw the pages as Krishnamurti scattered the Order. The last prophets are like this: simple, even boring.

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13 A WINTER MISTRAL Long rumored to haunt the cold season, love has been sighted slouching toward certain families, its wroughtiron chains hoary with frost, newly sprung and attracted, some say aroused, by the sweet musk of the secular, the new car odor of commerce, the novelty of indoor trees Chimney s in these areas have long failed to produce the obese, mythical figures of years past. Too advanced for the rocking horse or top, the modern child's preference for gadgetry of gross complexity and expense has ensured the continued survival of the turtle neck. Fingers pecking at the Scotch, the matron reaps her usual crop of oven mitts, electric slippers, bath beads, boxed perfumes and wind chimes, which she holds up to the light, though there are no hooks left to hang them from, no gust or gale that co uld pass unannounced, indoors or out. Belts are unclasped for the feast pasta salad, spiral cut ham, buttered rolls, pecan pie; last year's vintage looses a mist of sugary tears. Later, the house full and warm with sleep, a cat claws ornaments from a bulb tangled bough, tail flickering on the sound of the breeze

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14 THE SLEDDING HILL Biting his glove, a boy shakes free one red hand, an icy shackle crusted on his wrist. I jerk the reins at the hills hay stacked flank, snuffing out in deep powder, pretending death there on the hill. One tassel capped toddler slides the fairway length and hops the frigid creeks banked coast. The bundled bodies come running They tow him up dry, and kiss his cheek, his eyes on the little spo t where the ice whitened, the cracked pane where bubbles press their cheeks.

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15 PRAYER FOR JIM MORRI SON I still haven't made it to Pre Lachaise to leave a flower or an obscenity on your delinquent grave, or touch the gnawed bu st long plundered. I heard they scrubbed all the graffiti, put a little cop on guard. Those mad old groupies prying at the ground think among your bones might be the one they dreamed: just a finger through your fly, that's all, a good joke. Today, in your native Florida, lizards at hand and foot, I thought I heard your voice from a passing Cadillac with California plates. Last year, the governor said hed pardon you, but never did. As one who loved your dithyrambs and blues alive, unfamous, almost twenty five I snag a wig of moss from a branch. Let some younger priest pour pinot on your altar, or read you Nietzsche by that twilight.

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16 THE PICTURE In our high school photography class, we used to beg for the purple p asses, our tickets to the outside world, to the junkyard cordoned off with a single rusted chain. Beyond the fields and diamonds, a land of cancerous cars lay stripped, here and there a pair of headlights ripe for kicking Loves backcountry. Where a kid had once tucked a gun beneath the shell of an air conditioner, with the list of his enemies folded in his pocket like a doctors note. One moment, she turned to look across the field: her hands clasped, swinging the little kit of her purse, the trees on the horizon slanting like a stiff grey wave. I trapped her in the speckled mirrors and lenses, refined into the posture in which she remains. The photograph Mr. Fremgen had not noticed, by the end of that summer, after the accident, the funeral, had become memorable enough to warrant the call to my parents. They peeled through the abandoned piles of homework in the corner o f my room to secure the battered negative. I have never called him back, never returned to that place we so longed to escape from. He told us to use our brains for something other than a pharmacy he told of finding himself pissing in a urinal next to Allen Ginsberg. With the sobriety he could sometimes conjure, he would pinch a print from the wash and shake it to life. I dont think she was looking at anything across the trees on the edge of the junkyard. Among the thousand words that picture is worth, these words aren't there.

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17 HAMLET AT WITTENBERG If I'm ever home, I'll ask her What she means to tell me, those mornings She appears in dreams, hair inked with dew, Hands bristling with fresh f lowers. This is no place for prophecy. Each day, Horatio wakes me, sets a stack of books In my arm, rushing me out the door. Professors wear out their chalk praising Copernicus his laurel freshly plucked From old Ptolemy, traded for a dunce. How cruel t ime is to our knowledge. I try to say, Maybe the spheres don't Move unless our thinking moves them My hand is never fast enough. O Father, I am as poor a pupil As a prince. Maybe before I am thirty I will have caught a fist of useless dust. Then I mig ht learn to concentrate a single Moment, hard enough for time to unwind Like a falcon, coming empty taloned From the hunt, I would return to you Or light upon the back of Yorick, Who carried me in rings around your throne.

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18 LOOKING at the Harn Museum How does it look so radiant? a voice asks, quietly upset by Monet and his poppies. It's the way he uses light, someone replies, for it is understood We are no masters. The roots that hang like hair along cliff faces are not fo r us to grasp, we who merely fell from high school. From those first fires that left us hideously unscathed, we come late to these rooms, wanting suddenly to describe them. Of course we are not certain. We cannot look for long without growing slee py and jealous. Here, one looks in vain for the flower, the pool at the feet of a young Narcissus: he swings in as upon a vine, rippling across an onyx slate, his lumpy body turning once, posing in a vein of buttery light at the center and then skat ing away. We knock on these doors politely, having forgotten that it is our duty to find a spot where we can be alone, along the edge of a wood, the necks of the trees splashed with cold pink sun.

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19 PHOTOGRAPH: THE SHUT TLE LANDING, 198 3 after Richard Misrach The desert was a bad idea. We would probably not have come, sunglasses tilted foolishly back, eyes aimed toward the sun, had we been informed how it might look to you. If we had noticed how we lay obscuring the horizon, if we had been told how far away the ship would fall a silver spurt barely visible or that among us was a spy, we would not have gotten up from our blankets and our comfortable yellow chairs. We might not have stood at all if we had thought we would have to stand forever.

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20 FLOWER SHOPPING IN JULY It's probably safer now that they're gone, the fireworks stands that used to flourish here. But not even one jumping jack, one black cat? One Roman candl e to scorch the top of America's great cake? Not all has changed. While men swing hoses over iridescent beds, mom heads toward the pinks and babys breath, floral equivalent to snake pellets and sparklers, while I dream among hybrids, premium priz e winners, perennials that will keep exploding and exploding. Mom stands fast, but dad gives in: we load a mortar tube of a tropical shrub into the station wagon. All summer long, it will litter the incandescent sparks of hummingbirds over the patio. S oil rattles in the planters like the silvery powders in those paper tubes. The fuses twist and hang. They are beautiful and expensive, but flimsy and blighted, as if made in the same factory. Many will be duds. We will be plugging our ears and grinning for months before we realize. As for America, who knows? The red glare of the tulip is all the proof we have.

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21 THREE TREES, THREE M OONS after the ceramics of Toshiko Takaezu 1 Bald, boughless, blind: the first tree sprung from the dung heap of n othing. The moon came circling, a cold fly. That was long ago. Where there is a tree, there is a moon a load on the most tentative limb. 2 In the dream, we are rollerblading across a moon white and smooth as an aqueduct. All those milk splashed stars rising over Illinois, sycamores clattering up from wet lawns Here, the moon is whorled and yellow, rough over beaches and vagrant palms. It is slow going here, in the Florida autumn, another kind of darkness. 3 Far from the kiln's first fire lies the last moon, cool, complete, at rest in its own shards.

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22 HOUSES On a Saturday, she lies in her underwear. On the TV, distorted, a troop of men build a house. They are nearly finished now. One heimlichs giant sacks of mortar dust into tubs of water, churning with care; another pops a sill into place in the den; a last cuts a rubbery sheet of tile for the kitchen. That would be the life she thinks, turning on the couch. She hasnt eaten yet today. Peta ls droop and mash against the window. As a girl, she had dragged a mess of boards from a shed and laid them out, working in the sun. All day in her flower dress she nailed and clattered until the thin chassis, its brief parlor too narrow to enter, wobbled in the dusk and her father came and carried her away. A fly twists up from the crowded sink. The men are gone. Steadily now, the new owner is shown in, begins to cry by then shes dressed herself, gone out the door.

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23 ODE TO A COUSIN for Marc Each time I come he has not changed, Though faithfully he has gathered The latest lyrics, fashions, ad campaigns These have passed and left him unaffected. Among the doilies and dust he remains The same modern: headphones, sneakers, S mooth, clean jersey hanging to his knees, Motes of cookie in his thin, blond beard. He has that kind of unceasing desire That from a distance seems like patience. The condition Grandma called God's Little Mistake has tethered him to an ever distant age. There was a time, before I found out How we aged, when he was older than me; And so we were young together. From opposite Ends of the pool, we shared the same tune. Now he finds me smoking, says I won't tell Oh, if only there were someone left to tell, Now that almost anything makes me strange: A portrait, a hat, an old song, the night sky. He lives in a punished afternoon, With a new song pulled perpetually Over his ears, rocking to and fro In a room he knows well and will never own.

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24 SELF PORTRAIT Beneath the shroud of a ball cap, the last Depression era farmers still work the fields, the yellow stalks that have refused to come forth any more. It is cause for optimism that a pair of glasses now collects the ears. In a sunny family portrait, I take part: eyes blank, inviting interpretation. From an improved smile, a few teeth peer out cautiously. The heavy brow is my fathers.

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25 105 Each visit threatening to be the last, we entered the Home; and I sh outed at him as down a well: How Are You Feeling Today, Grandpa? In the halls, palsied women dragged after me, calling, "Paperboy! Where's my paper?" In the cafeteria, he snored over a century's cake, disappointingly short on candles: a big wax 100 flitting in the dark. Then those five years that kept everyone guessing. Still the retirement checks from Graybar came, and we waited quietly on the bed as he knotted the bolo ties he loved to wear, broth spattered laces, steer skulls of turquoise. Then he was gone. He had died, of nothing, in his sleep. A little longer and perhaps there might have surfaced a telling anecdote of war, a boyhood memory of carriage rides

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26 FREUD IN OLD AGE He stayed up late, but always woke at dawn, A barber came and trimmed the famous beard; A chilly shower rinsed his head of dreams. His patients smuggled him cigars, his only vice, The boxes already half empty by midday. After the morning sessions, he would set out, An eye peeled for wild chanterelles or flowers. A seasoned walker, he outpaced younger men But was easily lost. He often started back Confused, in some absurdly wrong direction. He had been careful not to scar the children, Not much. His father, innocent, was dead; His mot her, it seemed, would never pass away. He filled the walls with grinning masks and urns. And while patients nestled among his artifacts, He smoked through the pain of cancer, having still To find the root of that fixation. An old man, He let the ash be a sh; cigars, cigars.

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27 THE PAINTED CHURCH St. Benedicts, Captain Cook, Hawaii South of the coffee plantations, On the dry side of an island entirely beautiful, Entirely volcano, In a season of war, the natives Clubbed and stabbe d a god in the surf. Here you will Find the painted church, A gable roofed chapel, latticed and white, Its belfry reaching into immaculate clouds. Far from the beaches, Gaze up at the vault, supported on each side By three octagonal columns and intricately painted To mimic the sky at dusk: a swath Of teal fringed with rose and lemon, Sprays of lime fronds, Black, metallic stars fixed to the wood. Behind the koa wood altar, the solid wall Deepened into an image of an apse, Ending in a faint glow of distant light. Above the walls, the murals: a startled St. Francis; Eve cradling Abel; and one of hell, A scene nearly illegible, faded by a century Of photography and sunlight. Outside, over the cemetery, The stones crowned with fresh lei, Over the beach where the natives returned The pieces of a body to the ships Already a dusk has run wild.

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28 ELEGY FOR A PET RAT We carry her swaddled in a lime green towel, A ragged thing half bald and pulsing, with two pink ears Finely haired, and a warm, mammalian eye peeking out At the waiting room of Lakeside Veterinary Hospital, Where everyone has something slight and injured Tethered to a wrist, or curled upon the lap Crusted mops of terriers, sweatered kittens. The owners are slightly wounded themselves. Three hundred dollars for the iguanas ultrasound, The parrots kidney treatments: its not the money But what it might mean, though one old man Whispers that he brought in a tiny green finger Of a lizard to be put down. The assistant emerges With a clipboard and calls out the irreverent names, Sugar, Professor Lemiwinks, Mary Jane, and Squidgee The name my girlfriend has bestowed upon her. The rat is placed like a bag of coins on a scale, Her body plump with tumors, lifted and prodded Bef ore she scampers back into the soft dark, Nibbling the disc of a tortilla chip. The doctor prescribes a narcotic pink milk. It will be Two weeks before we carry her out and plant her Where a few odd rocks mark the yards end. Well adlib some miniatur e eulogy, Remembering her among her furred cohorts, Aloof and affectionate, chewing through microwave cords, Dragging the blue gem of a cold capsule Into a lair of shredded mail and Kleenex. On nights we left the cage open, we awoke to her Perched on our chests, sneezing in the dark. There will be more of these samplers of grief. Nothing much, perhaps, but necessary: Practice for the mourning of more substantial things.

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29 VERTIGO Clean, blue, this antique light glows in the thread of my socks. T onight, I want no girls but dead ones. Star wreathed mountains, credits, then Jimmy Stewart on the rooftops, slipping Give me your hand! From this height, the policeman is a blue fly sprawled in a sticky blossom. Give me Kim Novak, tastef ully concealed, with her bounteous eyebrows. Let Jimmy Stewart walk the streets. A cartoon bouquet breaks in my eyes. The night, Carlotta, pins up its blonde strands like yours.

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30 A VIGIL I'd imagined an oak with a trunk made of iron, like a giant spike dipped in cement. It's hard to believe this sapling took your Ford, that it grows here unbruised. Besides these clusters of candles and flowers, there's not much for a mourner to add. Crickets flick against my legs, and head lights pass, swinging the asphalt's lonely arc. Mist hangs like smoke and the moon is only a sliver. I want a patrolman to find me, to lift the moon of his flashlight over my body. Perhaps by spring, this swath of cornstalks and brush, where you down ed your last vodka shot, kicked up the music, and peeled away from the party will be a Walmart. Ill keep seeing that object your stepfather pried from the wreck: the melted cylinder of albums from your changer its huge song muffled in his hands.

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31 LOCA SANCTA I had wandered from the party ice cracking in my cup, my body a hard weeping in the Florida heat. As I unzipped and began to piss down the trunk of a palm, I heard a voice from the shadows above Hey, man! so that I fell and soaked one leg of my jeans. I gathered myself and had turned to run, when the voice continued: Wait! Poet, you come from the party where I hear again the flirt and gossip of the literary crowd, filling me with summers dark n ostalgia. One poets laugh I recognize, but what of my master, Justice? Justice is dead. In Iowa, not in Miami as he dreamed. Joe Bolton, bard of youth and twilight, of the frail lace of girls panties is it you? How is it that you return to speak now in this spray of fronds, in this tropical dusk of which you sang? It was quiet; and then a mockingbird, its fierce yellow eyes still visible there, rattled the crown so that again I heard him: The glory of my young death has laid me here, where the force of longing deposits those who die in defiance of their time. If I have died in error, it was only that my end came too late, not too early. I began to answer, but stopped myself. A lamp came buzzing on, ove r the lot, and the small tree seemed content in the glow, and I had not the heart to disturb it.

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32 RETURN for Nate A new weight swells in you, holding you, while the sky drifts overhead. These voices are neither the accusation of angels, nor the perfidy of pop stars, but my joking and the waitress asking if youd like another splash. Again you hear what I say, not what I think, and are bored.

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33 TO MY FATHER I used to take money from your wallet, bills cri sp from the machine. What else didn't we share? If you forgot something, you would close your eyes and curse yourself. Once, I took one of your pills from the cupboard. It made me yawn over and over, until I could hardly stand it. Years later, I remem bered this when the doctor tried to prescribe it. How it used to worry me, days you would skid in your slippers like a housewife. Two truants, we shared a can of minestrone while the dogs sighed dust. Yet you labored under so many muses: geology, co ins, guitars, pistols, watercolors. A flock of brushes, stiff and dry, stood in empty cans of orange juice concentrate next to stacks of Skeptic There is not one twist of the helix that I have not inherited. As for your paperwork, there are miles of l egal pads of lists, notes for your great poem, this life, unwritten.

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34 HYLAS IN FLORIDA I had just retired from a distinguished career and was of course miserable, so moved to Florida. I spent a deal of time sitting in the shade, in a g olf cart, enjoying the occasional sound of errant drives blasting the fronds overhead. Carts rattled down the paths, full of bald and sunburned retirees, to each of whom I lifted a pristinely gloved palm. The moment it happened I was in a notorious haza rd off the seventh green, waggling my bronze wedge and craning to spot, over the lip of the trap, the small flame of the pin; I heard an urgent fore! from the hill, turned, and was struck in the brow. I felt the sun flash in my eyes, my back hit the sand and then I was back on the island: Through the murk, lights boiled overhead, and I saw old friends, now long dead, bearing torches for me. Suddenly my voice was dry and loud, the sun back in my eyes; the mayor and his wife were apologizing and lifting me from the sand. I insisted it was nothing, and entertained some awkward formalities, embarrassed at recalling that much exaggerated scene. It was true I had missed the ship; but there were more and even greater adventures though few would believe them I thought I might have stayed in that strange Jacuzzi, or gone back to those hands that, once felt, I dare anyone to leave behind. Then it was dusk; I had just rounded the water on the last hole, nine strokes over, when the vision returned: I saw again the storied ship dissolving on the horizon my friends all gone, not having waited for me. I dropped my putter on the muddy bank and was struggling waist deep toward a drape of moss blowing in a far pine when I saw the tail swish, the snout breach and fe lt powerful jaws thrash me down.

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35 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Todd Styles was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. He received his undergraduate degree in English from the Southern Ill inois University and his MFA in creative writing from the Univers ity of Florida. He currently resides in F lorida.