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Amphibian Hand by M. Otis Beard
published in Volume 2, Issue 2 on April 3rd, 1995

He spoke a jagged language that no one understood
and camped out on the open palms of strangers
In his pocket was a lump of coal
Xmas present from the cracked vellum years
that had rolled off his back and gurgled in his throat

Magnets frightened him.  The aluminum foil hat he wore
repelled their evil waves and kept him safe
Safe from change, safe from harm
safe from eyes that tracked him, seeking wine
safe from tiny machines that craved his salty blood

Dumpsters held discarded secrets, held the scales
fallen from the eyes of sages far from shore
In shopping carts he stacked lost things he'd found
rooster's eggs and Dead Sea scrolls
philosopher's stones and mateless socks

If you asked, he could or would not tell his name
or where he was from, or when, or why.
He spoke a jagged language that no one understood
and crawled, new lungs choking on thin, dry air
up from the ancient sea to live on land at last

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