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When he learned he could draw the bullet
   back out of the body, and the ragged tunnel
of its passage would fuse closed, things
   changed. For instance, he found he would
never lack for work. At funerals, he now
   waits for someone to say, “I would give
anything to bring him back,” then he
   offers his services and strikes the deal.
Everybody thinks at first that time has
   somehow been reversed. But all his clients
remember getting shot. It’s not a thing
   easily forgot. The sentence of the body
is left punctuated by the mark. So now
   he makes a living by turning what seemed
to be a period of permanent darkness
   into the mere pause of a friendly comma,
allowing the syntax of one life to persist.

Michael Bazzett’s fourth collection of poems, The Echo Chamber, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2021. His verse translation of the Mayan creation epic The Popol Vuh (Milkweed, 2018) was longlisted for the National Translation Award and named one of 2018’s ten best books of poetry by The New York Times. You can find out more at
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15 Apr 2024

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