Innocence and Other Poems

Innocence

Does the building stink just a bit of the earth below it? Does the new construction whiff of compressed what? Still, it’s home, our Palace of Distance, safely sub-suburban, far from everyone. Indiscriminately so. For company I’d walk down to the creek at the foot of the yard, where the cattails stood stock-still but spreading. They sucked all the water up. And let’s call this drought the toads’ fault, because everything has a cause. And if the toad whir then the birdsong are gradually silencing, let’s call it the dead’s fault, whose snow of hands fell upon the birds whose winter was, anyway, coming. Or fell upon the skin that made a whole human canvas for their desire. So let it be my great-great-grandfather’s fault that the expression “sold down the river” was coined in our city, where human being after human being was forced down the gangplanks into boats bound west and south, who and when they escaped fled back here and were built a tall fence around: “Little Africa.” No paved streets—low type of inhabitants. Availability of Mortgage Funds: None. Let it be the surveyors’ or realtors’ fault, who if not one violence then another. Let it be a failing of the fecund earth packed around body after body that spits up sick flowers, which a rabbit will eat and skitter back into hiding, which if I am hungry I will shoot through the head—not to spoil the meat—and hoof it back home to my suburban valley where all the yards slope down to a creek where swells of toads go on maddening the cattails and the creek dries up. I swear I ate it without knowing. As though when I saw the tooth embedded in the pink meat, I did not dig it out and keep eating.

On Inertia

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