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                                   Back when I was being hit,
what mattered most was the consistency
            of that sort of argument.
If the light went out when I was being hit,
            if it was the end, at least,
of one sort of light, it was in a place where light
was the only thing that could raise itself—
so back
when I was being hit, two hands pushed through
            a sort of light
& returned & returned & were larger than light.
When I was being hit I put myself
upon my country, & the country winked out
            its pilot light
& suppressed itself in the soil of a Monday
I was being hit & a Thursday I was hit also—
the new shape of justice still

as dark as an empire. My country was working
second shift on Modernism
            that day,
& it was an indifferent weather in my country
            that day
I was being hit, & so all through the country
the weak were given tasks they couldn’t handle,
                         & the strong were given tasks
they couldn’t fail.
With my back upon the soil
                        of an empty lot in America
I had my face in my hand, my world gainsaid
in insignificant ways but to me,

everything. God of William Carlos Williams,
God of Paterson & Modernism
I ate the plums you gave me & climbed into
the icebox you made for me & while inside it
I ate a city Paterson & the New Sentence
& the way you can worship even without faith
& the Book of Leviticus (laws) these two great
hands don’t believe in. If a self is large enough,

            it can only be approached
from one direction. So always it was eating that
            way. Between the two of us God
(God of William Carlos Williams, Paterson God)
was a highway peopled by Biblical standouts
& shrouded by men spectrally cast—

            this would be real American men

            —over the face of the road like images
of lateness. God of William Carlos Williams

                                                 & Paterson
                                                 & “modern”
when I ate the Bible
            you took me in, me & Bible both
            & Paterson both
            & Modernism & Monday both
            back when I was being hit
you took in. Others who accepted blame only
            haltingly, others unlike God
so unfailingly present William Carlos Williams,
others & God who did not push through it
fell away. Now I have eaten your plums
            & an icebox
& all the God, too. You sat alongside, satiated
            with me. God,
for just a moment—back when I was being hit—
I almost forgot
                        I didn’t love you.


—Seth Abramson