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Instructions for Reading
a Poem

by John Stupp

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A poem
may cause drowsiness
use caution when operating—
if images of women appear in spring bonnets
if images of naked men who look like David Beckham appear drinking pina coladas
if images of a coastal skyline of levitating saints
are loose, cut off, or wrongly connected—
or if there is a burning smell from the narrative generator
from swaying trees
near ball field lights
from parachuting corpses
caught in wicker nets
from sternwheelers
plying mountain streams
from strings of rivets
in a wave trough of iron plates—
and if the control valve for lowering speed is screwed in too much
or malfunctioning
then readjust the adjective pin assembly
get all contact points welded
before the metric junction box is vulcanized
lock the poem in an upright position
and consult the manual—
if the manual is missing
or damaged
contact the poem’s manufacturer—
do not lubricate moving parts
do no use chains or ropes for towing the poem
do not stand next to the poem
while operating a hydraulic lift—
do not read the poem
if you are pregnant
or taking anti-depressants
herbal preparations or dietary supplements
and if you have allergies to medicines, foods or other substances
or have an erection lasting more than four hours
and have a false or unusual sense of well-being—
alcohol could intensify these effects
limit your exposure to the sun
and other sources of ultraviolet light
and prepare to read the poem
sound will disappear
when the poem has no load
or runs at a slow speed
in a twitching
controlled repetitive movement
of the tongue
lips and face—
like a cigar stub rolling
in a thicket of bamboo—
like a farmer
towing a reciprocating cutter bar
in silent air


end of story

© 2016, John Stupp Go to top