Summer, 2012 / Mark Pentecost

                    For Jane, my companion in so many revisions

I’m not in a good place. I want out so
I open the door. The heat collapses on top of me
like a sledgehammered ox,
legs splayed across the compass.
Lost in its entrails are the auguries
I’d hoped to hear myself  announce,
but my ears are asphyxiating.
Sunlight drowns everything out.
The yard looks the same: same grass bushes trees,
same bricks flowers stones, same chairs,
drawn now like a comic book,
humid black lines on every edge.
The heat’s concentration is absolute;
my thoughts stampede in panic—
wanton boys have set their tails on fire:
needles twitching against red backgrounds,
calm voices counting down,
snakes rolling in the dust like donkies.
Sharp reports of bells and the peal of Glocks,
redistribution of rage a new entitlement program,
the university of  muzzle velocity,
promise of rebirth in washing machines and tax refunds.
My father’s dismay to find himself still living,
inside a supercomputer on the frizz.
Wolves prowl the sewers. Between shifts,
assassins and murderers crack cold ones;
their college rings gleam in the long afternoon.
Are there more things now
to hate? Which hemisphere is
responsible for this? To minds
bristling with questions, whatever
catches in its quills will smell
like an answer. Watching tv
is easier than whistling, but
there’s no turning away, or back, or inward
from an entire planet immolating itself in protest
of our radiant, our most resplendant shadow.
My head is hooded in falling brightness.
You could fry an egg on my retina.
Born here, I’ll never get used to it.

The bathroom is far and the lawn is mine,
so I piss on it. A little logic at last. My urine is thick
and amber and departs my body
in a feckless stutter: not enough fluids.
Prick and two balls generate form
of trefoil: carbon and two oxygen,
tiny cathedral window,
biohazard (like there’s any other kind).
I need to sit down.

My latest angel is picking at my rolled-up sleeve,
one of those big, insouciant crows,
feathers the color of burnt, burnt skin. “You know,”
he confides, “poetry’s fixing to wash you off its hands.
Free associations aren’t such a bargain anymore,
everyone’s a shaman.” I’m bummed.
I’ve been working on this poem since I was born,
pimping my urchin sorrow to the great world’s woe.
 “It’s not fair,” I say, out of habit. “I looked up to you!”
“No. You didn’t. You thought you were my totem.”
He’s on my shoulder, cawing softly, laughing.
“What a critter is man!  
Seriously,
                    Mark,
                                 reality cannot bear
so much human being. You’ve broken and twisted it
on your wheels, then used it to lace your boots.
Fair? Forget justice, try for mercy.”
He cocks his head, losing interest.
“I’ll be glad when you people stop
                                looking  me
                                             in the eye,”
and like a firecracker he’s gone.

In the age of peak twilight
the sky is tanned and crosshatched,
sinking toward sepia, ready to be archived.
Bark leaf petal pistil stamen stomata:
everything comes out of nowhere; it’s time to go home.
Creation is loosening its syntax, relaxing its grammar,
punctuation damp spots soon dried up,
then it will all run together,
                               past.
In my throat the oceans are rising, slowly,
acidly, implacably, reflux of Gaia’s last meal.
Power evaporates off my tongue, collects in secret pools
somewhere.
           Perhaps in the bottom of your glass.
Hope for autumn.

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