appalachian cityscape

by J. David

                              sidewalks here brag windchimes and landmines
               we sent to someone else’s children
sometime halfway between home & working to death
               & the news never showed us any casualties
                              without white faces

our hearts couldn’t make less
               of a difference—
kept coming up zeroes on the scale
               when nobody bought into the system
stacked atop a thousand years of bread while the crows
laughed from behind their picket lines & an apocalypse hit—

left us so far backward our sins fell out
                                                            & we were nothing to god

someday the freight-train grows up & everybody cheers
for breakfast like they’re finally getting fed a hung jury
                              or a vomit stain on a factory-stack
                              we were supposed to clean
               as if it wasn’t already too late
to save our planet from ourselves

city lights come out dancing
                              when calamity turns up
at the family party & we knew then
we’d written enough
persona poems for other people’s grief
to place the blame on someone else
for all the murders

god-machine said none of us
were allowed to hear prayer any longer
                                                            & the saddest part is
we got caught with our hands red in a forest of sunflowers

                                             considering the circumstances
               skyscrapers look too much like dead bodies
to be comfortable with stepping out the front door

heroin built a church on our street
& everyone showed up to mass
wearing shirts that said
               keep out the liquor stores

just goes to show—being liberal never saved anybody
                                                            when the factories left

                              we stuck our heads in closets
                                                            after we mailed our principles
               to four years from now & the government
called it a write-off when they taxed the poor
out of town but we knew better
than to ask poor folks to beat us kind

               the whole block lit up like a bug-jar in june
               stapled to the back of a climate crisis
when the kids came home drunk again

               better late than dead

               better dead than prison

everyone’s uncle got parole & we came home
               when we heard our mothers calling
to say the hospital burned
                              a hole in the budget

spent our twenties buying flowers
                              for graveyards

spent our twenties in closets
               retrieving our heads
               & nobody clapped
when the war ended

you must have heard by now—
god came knocking
               & nobody answered the door

Published on October 7, 2021