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Brett Foster


Three Citations on Our Nature

Too often to feel like Angelo
in Shakespeare's problem play,
to whom Isabella appeals, and rails
about proud man dressed in little briefs,
or rather "little brief authority."
Our glassy essence is the problem.
It plays fantastic tricks. Soon enough
all the angels turn to crybabies.
They laugh themselves beneath
themselves: less celestial, more splenetic.
Then there's Lakers small forward
Ron Artest, boarding the team bus
in his underwear, Looney Tunes
theme playing in the soundtrack
in his head. "Unique," once said
a teammate. Chagrin-maker, odd duck,
he's prone to improbable shots,
courtside fist fights. Is a goat
in the outhouse (his own words).
"He has a penchant for little things
tripping him up in the process,"
his coach says of Artest, a product
of the Queensbridge projects.
Human penchant, that is, "so he is kind
of dogged by his own nature."
Finally, Berryman's poet at eighty,
in Eleven Addresses to the Lord:
"don't try to reconcile anything …
this is a damned strange world."
Nonetheless a world, according to
dear Berryman, hearing nothing
in "Thy kingdom come," nonetheless
a world still capable of awaiting
His prepared astonishments.

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