that’s not a poet it’s
a ’93 Ford with
four-hundred-thou on the O,
whining along the highway with
peeling paint and
that’s not a poem it’s
just screeching and noise,
something moving too fast and
slouching to a rest,
desperate and dying and
choosing the road over the junkyard.
sees the gold in mud,
the health in blood,
the rainbow in oil,
the passion in toil.
did you see them running, running,
did you see? did you see them
black with blood, did you
see anyone stop to help, did you see them
motionless in roadways, screaming on sidewalks,
did you see them, mouths open and teeth chipped to pieces,
did you see those who did this,
did you see their shiny clubs, their
bright and favored flags,
did you see the smirks they let slip,
did you see?
did you see?
Flesh has its rhythm
in constant self-repair;
the rest from labor enables greater labor,
and muscle builds stronger when strained, so
why must we pretend
to be as steel; unwavering, unfeeling,
ignoring the needs of flesh
to slumber –
in favor of steel-bound schedule,
approaching our ultimate tensile point,
waiting to twist, to groan and
cast away the mimicry,
do not conform with an inhumane system –
resume the dance of exhaustion and repair,
do not live as steel.
Lilacs, lilies, roses, still –
marigolds and dandelions and
small seeds, small heads
rising from the fetal position;
pale limbs poking through, hands poised
to claw the surface;
what are these things,
what purpose did they have, what
mastery did we seek over them by
lash and flick of tongue,
what did we drive them towards
when we murmured their names,
their names, lost now in winter –
are they found in these sturdy limbs?
Are there names to view, names to eat?
syllables quivering in the wind, and
names that bring in butterflies?
And so the summer
leaps like a lake bass
over the moon’s reflection,
over the shade of pines,
and hangs from the moment,
and merely glimpsed.
we have bowed our heads beneath
the drop-ceiling skies, fingers pecking
crude metal, without knowing why
our works are useless to all, serving only
Mammon’s musters, our eyes are glazed, our
necks are craned, our
joys have lost their luster,
and all of us, sighing,
awake only for our shift,
and squirm, and scream, and dread to think
that this could go away.
The gears are squeaking, grinding, slowly,
slowly – the gears are crunching,
dust and debris between their teeth,
gagging on the thick air and
kept in place by the prod of batons –
the gears are rattling, shaking, slowly,
slowly – grime leaks out as they are beaten,
the foremen ignoring their foam at the mouth –
the gears are wailing, louder, longer,
faster – the gears are trembling against their guards
ready to leap,
even if they must land on concrete.
And I know what you know, kid:
three-fifty a week ain’t worth dying over,
and if Justice needs a helping hand, hell,
she should put in a worthy bid
like everyone else.
So let’s you and me just ease down the pistols, kid,
we can talk numbers just fine,
three-fifty-seven, magnum, faster ‘an a whip, hell,
I’ll buy yer’ dinner, and a lil’ something
extra for your time.
And I know, I know, I’m a bad man, kid,
for shooting the man who shot my brother,
my brother shot his wife, hell,
and plenty of other folks, but listen, kid,
if I shoot you dead, or –
Hell, if I shoot you in the leg and the sawbones
saws through the scraps of remnant –
Is it gonna be worth that three-fifty a week?
So let’s just slide these pistols down, kid,
real slow-like, and don’t make any fast mov-
the stars eclipsed by the
flutter of paper wings, the
smell of burning ichor.
they come out at night,
at night, every night,
spreading dust and dread and
a brigade charging at the light,
for some sick and sour craving.
heaps and heaps of them,
littering the streets and
choking the city, possessed
of unresisted urges,
the thirst for light, their desire
to shortcut this night
no matter the path