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The particulates of matterand one man on a plastic slab,lying so still a black bear,

shambling through the hospital,would nudge him with is noseand leave him for dead.

Close quarters of a cylinder:embalmed in a missile,I’m shot into the clutch of armies—

sounds of battle: scrape,crunch, clang of swordson shields, roar of jet engines.

As the MRI works, I prayit can’t detect failures. On cue,the machine catches, slows

to the rhythmic thrumof a hammer pounding nailsin a coffin. It knows

the brain’s a tangled knotof blighted thought, a gnarledwhorl of the soul’s dark root—

then it moves to the body’slush pastures, a harvestof grains and tubers

in the long magnetic season.

© Neilson Shane