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President Lincoln Never Wore a Turtleneck Sweater
by Hezekiah Allen Taylor

it would cut too close
to the jugular--
blood twisted off
blunt like a tap--
the knob tight cotton
bunched quick and rolled
rounded like a cigarette
(if thin), a cigar (if thick)

when the war threatened
he only knew that he
couldn't let go
all those platitudes
of Franklin tickling
under the skin of his neck:
"a house divided," and the like
(and he thought of Locke--
in passing economical reference)

while writing his carefully
rehearsed speeches, he would pull
hard at his collar, loosen his tie,
itch the two inches of throat
exposed to his fingers
the skin would blush slight
the red expand in rash

he couldn't cover that neck
couldn't surrender the exposure
of a pulsing vein--
the only thing left that proved
humanity to himself when
he looked in the gilded
silver mirror at night
and spoke without practice

Francine's Version -- Hezekiah's Version -- Inspiration
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