Hometown, April 2020

Swathed in black, a man puffs on a joint,
And grins at his speakerphone.
The fit lads cycling past
Don’t partake, but they applaud the effort.
Back damp with sweat, a jogger splits the air.

I pass between golf courses at the edge of town.
Out where they build Roman arches over modern villas,
And live as Romans-
Born of action, not imagination.
These green-belt legionnaires,
Denied even the catharsis of an orgy.
I am not with the legion, I am not posted here
To be the spear that holds the empire up,
I’m just passing though. Or so I tell myself.
So I keep moving.

Down at Sopwell Nunnery, where Henry’s goons
Delivered the faithful from their morning masses,
Cut their straining rosaries,
And shoved them, blinking, out into harsher light,
I stop for a moment to catch my breath. Places like these,
Chernobyl, Aioi, Mo’ynoq,
We ash them over with apocalypse,
And leave ’em for the birds.
But we are never done with the dead places,
Even once they’re done with us. Even amid the ruins,
We go raking the leaves and tending the saplings,
Dredging the still earth for a response.

In filmic dusk, even the dead hanging blossom
Is worthy of wedding dresses,
Chiffon for all cancelled plans.
For each action a reaction,
For each runaway, a homecoming.
Now I know the third law of the suburbs,
The more you push, the more they pull.

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