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.

unseasonable

 

in the street, a small boy hums the twelve
days of Christmas under a hot June sun.
cobwebs gather like cotton in the windows
in a matter of days; i stay
up too late reading stories i already know,

wage war with my body, long to sink
drowned in a hot bath, or back down
onto the cool stone floor
of the kitchen where
you made me forget the heaviness

of my skin, where gardenia slips
through the screens– the plant
they said will never make it
through the frost.
every movement of my hand

is hedged; even dreaming;
even sweaty against the tile, there
are still more clothes to wash,
still more doubts to run clean.
it is hot for this time of year, we’re told,

no relief in storms.
it’s five a.m., and a firetruck screams red
& white through crust-eyed darkness, winding
its labyrinthine, becoming distance,
still; soft; threat.

 

 

Pipeline, Verse 52

IMG_0897

Saturday morning.
The roar of the rapids as loud as the drizzle is soft.
Wanderers in slickers flick past,
fingers numb, barely looking.
Oh but you can see them,
the Great Blues, hopping
lonesomely from stone to stone
amid the rush of white water,
nests cold and dizzying and far.
Overhead, there is no rumble.
The tracks stand sad sentinel, drip
down to the worn pages
where Walt marks his yawp,
there, under the trestles,
above the river and the wastewater and the burnt-
out campfires, unrivaled in the rain.