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If the angels of vengeance are generous,
they will place in your hands some icon
of a long former love. A favorite mug
you can pitch to the hard floor of a dumpster,
a claddagh ring to bury by a river or,
as with me: an oriental rug gifted
to mutual friends before you help them move.
The angels of vengeance perched there
on a powerlinein their leather jackets,
nudging each other as I drag the heavy textile
to the yard. Their noses tingle with pride
as I find a softball bat and do my friends—
yes, all for my friends—the favor
of dusting up some old demons.
“Oh, it’s no problem” I say
as the August sun reels through memories
like a projector in an attic. I beat rising apparitions
to oblivion, back into the warp.
An angel floats down to daub my brow
with his primary feathers before leaving.
He looks over his shoulder, the hinge of his wing,
collects his colleagues and flies
into the great deep whatever. I bludgeon
the hand knotted sunburst until it ceases to cough
up its miserable gray ghosts. Then I roll the rug
into a cigar to wedge beneath a dresser.

John Dudek is a graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His work has appeared in The Journal, Grist, Lake Effect, Midwest Review, and elsewhere.

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