unveiling

Rumors of War
On a Wednesday night
in our New South,
a black man

astride a horse
sees the cold, almost-
ripe moon for the first time.

heavy drapes hang
on the bronze bolts of his hair
for forty full minutes 

in the sinking light,
tugged free at last by an unnamed fireman
as a marching band plays. 

so like the old Capital: all pomp and letting go
by degrees. it’s how the papers will spin it, anyway,
ghosts murmuring softly into the rain

while the crowd cheers
and the politicos pat themselves
under their wide umbrella-grins.

the generals down the block
are not moved. maple leaves
blush red in the late fall air.

next night, just across the river,
music spills for the first time
in a white-bricked café, 

full-ish house, applause.
a pink-haired kid with a violin has struck
up Ashokan Farewell, another song 

on a playlist of our beautiful dead.
like most people, we can’t see the monuments
from here, nor—most days—the ghosts.

it’s as if nothing has changed,
nothing significant at all, except
the moon, now full, 

looking down
on a slightly different city.

July, Richmond

 

i hold the hurt in the hollow bowl of my hips,
tipping my head to look for shooting stars
amid the fireworks. a too-
wet summer crawls up the newly scrubbed base
of the monument behind us: southern soldiers
un-graffiti-ed before September’s big race.
it doesn’t feel like independence, somehow,
or even reconciliation; more like a love
fizzled out before ever hitting night air.

 

 

The Volta

It is a little over a mile each way,
dappling sidewalks punctuated
by tree roots and cobbled street pavers;
up to Chimborazo and the old war hospital.
The road ends as it did back then:
at Oakwood– a mile, as i have said, to the gates,
threading a future through the laces
of my worn out running shoes. Touching
fingertips to the stone arch, i turn
& say not today, re-turning to eke
on with whatever of existence
is given in the next twenty-four,
until tomorrow, when i again
run this little-over-a-mile heavy-
footed dream, a Nike pre-swoosh,
arriving late: i have thrown away
more chances yet than i have claimed,
boiled what is left down to this little-
over-a-mile and the gates where,
one Saturday long ago, i saw an owl
in sunlight perched on a granite cross.