Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Drought

The ants are working but the people of the park
       are sleeping. It's mid-day.
Michael lost the keys again. So his last mechanic job
       ended, on his anniversary.
Lynn's bike chain broke, and her dead-end job
       was far too far away. And Clete had to take care first
of the cigarette and affection needs of his woman,
       so he won't be welcomed back at that fast-food gig.

And these are the lucky ones, who have some work
       to look back on, not just bouncing balls
       or toxic jive, or rich-man's hip-hop hanging fire.

Cast out like purest angels from the best establishments,
       they leave their cardboard homes and plastic chairs
to squat with all the spent life on the forest floor
       safely under a red-corned pepper tree,
       away from the shame of women and children.
Still they leave in the sun their bent Modelo cans
       like all the best tales of decay.

Tree roots like exposed nerves hang down their dead riverbed,
butterflies on droughtgrass, spiderwebs on dry-leafed trees
       like their cobwebbed film-noir nightmare
       in a kaleidoscopic breeze,
mesquite bean shells emptied of what food was once
       inside them,
ice plants grey and lifeless, holes poked full of leaves.

Here I run from past and future, breathe in dirt like any bum,
pulled in to the same gusts of nothingness,
       the whisper they call silence,
but I find a shaded log — and fight so hard to believe in it;
       its perfection's too elusive,
       that I should be free, receiving
not some semi-sheltered creature watching leaves fall
       from the eaves
       like a shuffling of cards.

The butterfly glides away. The trees go silent.
A hawk swoops close by, glares at me, at least enough
      to say: "You think you've got a problem, friend?
      I'm a hawk!"

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