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Standing on the Landing

Kathleen Rooney

outside his apartment in Berkeley,
carpet graying, thoughts straying,

swimming through the murky pool
of light in the hall, Robinson tries

to recall his favorite joke from when
he worked circulation in the Denver

Public Library so long ago. Late
summer, late night. Can't get it right.

How the hell did it go? Feels like
someone's stuck a fork in his heart—

not the dinner kind, though, the kind
in the road: head to the new

girlfriend's house, or stay home?
Bennies or dexies? Roam

the Marina district, or drink alone?
Golden Gate or Mexico? Robinson

doesn't know. Maybe he'll do it all.
Reaches into his pocket, pops a small

red pill, then—oh, clarity! oh, recall!—
furrows of worry in his brow go slack:

Man walks into a library,
asks for a book on suicide.

Librarian says, "Fuck you—
you won't bring it back."

Kathleen Rooney

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