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Hammers and Nails

I think you learned to love people
by watching hammers love nails

You bury them in succession
one after another after another
and you never expect them
to get back up.

Some do, of course.
It takes them years.
Decades, sometimes, but
they wrench themselves out
of the holes you put them in
with their heads still smarting,

so you go back.

You love them down again. Harder.
You put all your weight into it,
just to make sure.

I know what will break you.
One day you will love someone
and they will go crooked.

You will love them
and they will twist at their shank.
Bent over, hunching their back,
they’ll take you on their spine
and let you hit as hard as you like.

They’d rather be mangled
than hidden away.

What will you do
with a love like that?

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.
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