Relativity

Academic vigours
lose their science
when it comes to art.
An array of space-point-time
lines foretelling
the devil’s future
in tingled palms,
they predict
useless fiscal gymnastics
in a landscape devoid
of tumbling mats. And
the earth? Upstream
folly commanding clocks
to run backward. We’re
left iceboxing in a desert
on the centennial eve of never-had-
existed. Avenue upon
avenue of comatose
dreamers, smiling at
the sun. I burn, therefore I am.

autumn landscape from a downtown window

This
is my world,
cut into horizontal ribbons
of dirty glass like some
perverted jail cell
set on its side and left
to mildew’s ruin in
a late September rain.
It’s five thirty
and the streetlights are coming
remorselessly on,
beacons of promise
or spotlights
preventing escape, depending.
The traffic pulses with an
irregular heartbeat as the hand
on the old clock
tower ticks past quitting time
and the dull cement of
parking decks becomes
breeding ground for ghosts.
Drops of wet climb up the sides
of crumbling brick
seeking release from an
overburdened asphalt
and the friction of
steaming tires as car
after car slicks past,
owners gripping
steering wheels
as if they were the leashes
of poorly trained pets,
tomorrow’s dry cleaning
hung like gallows
in the back seat.  After a second
or a century the light
at the corner of Fourteenth and
Main clicks from yellow
to red, bringing life to
a shuddering halt as
wiper blades huff
back and forth in frustration;
brakes chafe; engines grumble.
Only the rain continues
to fall without surcease,
clinging to the skin of sky
and city alike and saying with its
every chilled breath
a farewell to summer.

July landscape, mid-Virginia

train whistles its late-afternoon
warning over the banks, shooing
herons from their nests, dockworkers
from their reveries; downstream
an earthbound descendant of
graffitied cement and rusty idealism
derives the ebb of the river’s summered
bottom with circles formulated
around the circumference
of heaven and lines drawn
up by hell’s indifference:
equations like battlescars written
not in flesh and blood but in
currents and railroad tracks and cut
deep in post-modern
denial.