Poem to the Dying Earth
When we heard the giant was late
In his dying years, festering,
Would be swallowing the earth,
Take us all into himself,
We were amazed, offended to think
Our ivy would vaporize in his veins,
That his eyes would bulge
With the fire of our years,
That our memories would remind him
Of first kisses and picnics,
That footsteps in dark alleys
Would remind him of bad decisions,
That our words would no longer mean,
But be thick in the sounds
Of lovemaking. And when
Our scientists interjected
In their scientific ways
That twelve years would pass
Before he’d grow wicked
And old and overwrought,
That children conceived today
Would not make teens before his fire
Put us out, many were angry
And thought of throwing themselves
Into the conflagration
While others were sorry
For the fire, how its blaze
Would flare, then wane, go dark,
And others schemed.
We were all making plans
As to what we’d do as it neared.
Around the water cooler,
Bill said he’d take the boss’s wife—
We’d never heard him talk
That way, the former minister,
Father of three, loving husband.
Some went the other way,
Seeking gods who promised fire—
They ripped their button-downs,
Tore at their sleeves in alignment.
We knew the sun had faltered,
Showing its age. We watched
As Mercury flared in orbit,
Just a blip, a silent film.
TV news reported our discoveries
Of how planets die
And from that came cures
For most cancers, spinal injuries,
Mental retardation—the lame walked
And we cheered, counted days,
Hospitals emptied, wars ended,
And as the sun just nicked Venus,
We took to calling it God.
And we watched
As God got closer
And he grew fierce, until
We could see nothing but light.
Car Idling in Grocery Store Lot
No broken door pulls or lost radio knobs—
No torn car seats, expired insurance.
We were not homeless.
And it was not that we were trudging West
To skirt an ex-lover and tax debt.
As I remember, the other cars weren’t rolling
Through the lot, but drifting along,
As priests do when their hands are full
Of ash and blessings.
Looking up, there was no trace of our bodies
In the constellations, which you took to mean
We were never “here.” Imagine that: never here
Drinking gin to come down
From too much caffeine,
Never here—our patent leather hearts,
With no strings, but buckles and diamonds,
Squarely in their chests.
Never here, too far from the interstate
For a strip club, all night buffet,
Or lot lizards tapping our driver side glass.
You lay your car seat back,
Thought again of constellations and found
Two fish swimming in the space between
Saturn’s rings—in that infinite, concentric wide open
Like the Old West to which we were headed,
But aloft, strung up in that dark matter,
Where those bodies careen dark corners,
Mounting the back turns, skidding away
To a place so distant you thought
You saw me waving back.