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The Philosopher Savant in Safeway

I learned when I was an infant, 

the lilac swayed just once. 

Into a cart I knew no names 

as the tornado brought 

one more thing. 

Push away for colors, 

begin as icicles, can you? 

Into the aisle, I was but a wind, 

banged, remembered 

of laundry, fascinated 

against the tool shed 

to turn detergents 

by balloons, the door. 

George Wallace was out. 

When I wanted primary colors, 

I lay assassinated, 

lights to feel decorated 

on the ground of Alabama. 

Before I feel safe, 

the plastic bags live, 

you go to sleep, 

head for the coolers 

of Wonder Bread, and kiss, 

full of gallons, 

the election of Miss Black 

America and gallons 

of our souls and say 

to her face 

and Richard Nixon 

that she was lovely. 

It calms me and somehow, 

America, this changed 

when I think I felt 

like a safe place, 

our underwear, maybe 

some place to lay down 

one’s head, and everything, 

English muffins on a soft pillow, 

my hands growing 

sore and unfamiliar. 

There are eight 

as the planes fly, 

and potatoes churned 

over our sleep in a Sputnik 

to a package and kept us. 

How did our hatred 

check out, arranged, 

keep us asleep? The girl 

is nice like a row. 

For so long she wears 

the green of corpses in the arrangement of grapes.


Rustin Larson’s book Library Rain was released in 2018 by Conestoga Zen Press. Larson’s poems have appeared recently in Chiron Review, Exit 13 Magazine, Puerto Del Sol, and are forthcoming in Off the Coast, Evening Street Review, and Soundings East. His fiction has appeared in The Wapsipinicon Almanac, Delmarva Review, and The Iowa Source. The poem in this issue of J Journal will appear in the book The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River by New Chicago Press

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