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The Herd This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By C.M.L., San Jose, CA

In the shade of maple trees
and your mother’s pastel arms,
you read your first book,
a book that coaxes first
hesitant syllables out of your mouth,
then words: sixteen, maybe, paranoia.
Gates give and burst,
as you watch beasts tumbling out, your eyes as wide as stars:
your flummoxed herds of borborygmus,
your passionate katzenjammers lurching in the ether.
And although the dust rising from fluttering wings
seeps into your lungs,
and the thundering hooves of consonants


jostle
your
heart

beat,
your mother’s fixed smile still hovers serenely as you ask,


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