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whispering in my ears that punishment
is simply heaven’s name for adoration.
I am soothing; on an empty leash, eyes

cease to be sexy. Cops show up but aren’t sure
what to charge me with. I owe Graham twenty-seven dollars.
You know what’s cool? he asked me.

Leaf-blowing while your two giant German
shepherds watch you. I ask my bishops if
my prayer would be the waiting before

the asking. You are an artificial viper, they say. Oh.
They ask me to ask for pain, to wait for it, to stand
still, to wait, to ask again. They tell me to stand still.
We cannot make anything stand still, they say.



A.R. Zarif is from Chicago and holds an MFA from Brown. His work has appeared in Washington Square Review, The Offing, Ninth Letter, and others. He can be found online at




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