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Bright sun over the ruins of the high school
slices the Japanese boxwood outside my window.
Certain songs make you remember dinners
of beer and ice-cream and more for dessert.
Ambivalent alloy-notes tune into cuckoos,
dead fireflies, and bound roots. My tongue-tip
is a train whistling to Tippecanoe, and life
is my hand holding a jellyfish in yours.
Weeding is an ocean if you do it or not,
pit-mines are holes on the ground.
Comparisons are always half-ridiculous
but love is a blowfish sometimes, on a plate.
Silence becomes you, gun underneath the lantana.
You’re calm on the lam. Loneliness is for leisure,
poison-ivy for nothing, but rashes carry their antidotes
sometimes: sun rubs knots up the ribs of the blinds
while blowfish steal signs and effortlessly win.
Shadows on the table blanch but recover:
holes are everything, timing is everything,
a truck reverse-beeps from the Hattiesburg American.
We’re churchbell-less after a storm names itself,
camellia-pods in driveway dirt-rills, mop against
the house, Japanese boxwood in a half-crouch.
Who hasn’t been down? I’ve been a brick buried
under the Marianas Trench, waiting out the storm
on a couch in Laurel, where love is a City Hall/
gas-station/general-store freckle. Certain songs
make night blatant—knots steam from the table
into the redoubt air, an older woman limps
down my block, ice-cubes scratch in their sleep,
warm air breaks across a spiked leaf, the glass
table scuttles light onto the driveway until the grass
behind the boardinghouse recants how it treated
Dumbo before he flew—and sometimes every telephone
conversation is the same bland blind taste-test
in the hail, even the horseradishes beg for death.
But vinegar exorcises your sole of the toxic quills,
half-eggshells spooning in the day-old coffee-grounds,
bright sun behind the crane behind the ruins.
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.