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Peter Twal reads his poem, "This Sunday in Ordinary Time".


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Hello. My name is Peter Twal, and today I'm going to read to you a poem I wrote called "This Sunday in Ordinary Time". Um, I think this poem kind of a couple conversations I had with my parents, the first being with my mom about why there are so many dead people in my poems. And the second being a little bit more difficult of a conversation with my dad, about what makes us good people.

This Sunday in Ordinary Time

The swollen season gives birth to another
police procedural, but who doesn't love
a good detective? A dead fall. A heater, angry to be
awoken, burps up the summer's
burnt dust in my face. Before her cremation, the family swore 
they'd removed Nana's wedding band, but all pockets
turned up empty afterwards. It's a miracle
the ring hadn't been lost sooner,  dancing
from finger to finger as her body's bones
made themselves known like a barn caving
in a beam at a time. Infection spread
like fire across a small town. I'm passing through
Logansport today, this Sunday in Ordinary
Time. Barreling forward, forty-eight
in a thirty to make Mass, when Mama 
says, why all this hurried 
death in your poetry?
at noon. I daydream of picking 
open a tabernacle with a wiry
hair from my beard % a hairline
sliver of silver to gorge on
my crisp God, half-hoping Christ
tries to intercede. The Bible tells
me: "anyone who does evil
hates the light," & no matter how brightly
I bite back, the Bible
never changes its mind. Lord, help me to discern
the difference between persistence & insistence, indulgence
& rigor in every laugh, & the two
chords my clavicles ring when plucked. Help me
grin through their high pitch twangs, the way a good father
listens to his child learn to play the violin. I'm still learning
to pick up my feet when I walk, stumbling less
through names of famous
philosophers at smart parties & it's Spring before 
anyone's ready & I'm wondering how to build
a case against the bees plotting to ball
their queen to death without becoming 
a fanatic of my own. A death at the legs of 
so many lovers seems a difficult death
to explain to children & this: if a button breaks
your fall, it doesn't make it luckier than other buttons.
Listen: squint & it sings
of simple addition. A kernel 
cooked in its own slick. & you,
dear dear, forgive me when I take you for steak
& say nothing after a second Sazerac, after you
unwittingly spread
horseradish on your bread
instead of butter.