At the End of My Hours

A poem by Dana Levin:

here I’m here I’m here I’m

here here here here cricket

pulse — the katydidic tick

and then a pause) tick

and then a pause) in greening trees — tales

of a gratitude for water, the hollyhock’s

trumpet Yes, Tenderness

her glove and hoe — her bad trip

love/grief, her medic tent

talking me down, kissed fissures

in the world’s despair, what I’d

loved — alive for a while — a day called

Rip and Brood, a day called

Glorious Hour, the long hunt and the worm found

in the battered petunias — every

morning in summer

that last summer

before the bees collapsed and the seas rose up

to say Fuck You

II

perplexed by how it hadn’t been

unfailingly compatible, our

being numerous — how half the time

we couldn’t see the shapes

we were supposed to make

made grave our disasters — a god’s glass

bearing down

to burn the wheat crop — to keep time alive

inside a tomato, splicing

fish into fruit — some

wanted to defy limitation

were offered famine

bric-a-brac townships

virtual cities

where you could stand in market aisles

still expecting cherries

III

his rhythms were your rhythms

Murray the cat — sleeping à deux

draped your length from hip to knee

like a scabbard — unsheathed his yawn

tortured finches for breakfast

yowled and yowled round the ravaged bowl

till you fed him chicken

from your own plate

another mouth

pearling the wheel of appetite, coveting

a bloody mash

to keep it going — such a dumb rondeau

who invented it!

eating to live to kill to eat, even

cat on a stick when fields failed, no

crave for rain against the blasted scape

nor love nor god at the end

of my hours, but

garlic and butter

a splash of cognac

steak fries

IV

and when soil burned and order failed

and dogs then people starved in char I remembered

an extraordinary peace, the privilege

of being left alone with bread to eat

and famous butter “the chefs use,” the venues

of white sleep, cannabis and Klonopin

the soma-goods of art and when

my back went up against a blackened wall

for rumored beans in dented cans I forgot

my body — became a future remembering

how it got that way, some

blah blah blah — about hoarding rivers

and hiding gold, we

died in droves — we killed each other and we

killed ourselves until our bones wore out

their plastic shrouds

V

I couldn’t quite

quit some ideas — trees and chocolate

I couldn’t stop yammering

over the devastated earth

pining for nachos — prescription drugs

and a hint of   spring, though I could see

the new desert — its bumper-crop

of bone and brick

from shipwrecked cities — where now

the sons and daughters of someone tough

are on the hunt for rat — the scent of meat

however mean and a root

sending an antenna up, to consider

greening — what poems built their houses for

once, in a blindered age, teaching us

the forms we felt, in rescue — hoarded-up scraps

whirling around my cave

trying to conjure peaches

From the Poetry Foundation (with Q&A with the poet at the bottom).

This poem was sent to me by a friend who’s a poet herself, and obviously you can see why I thought it would be a good one to share. I like the quickness of the poem (the first seven lines, especially), which reinforces the need for hurry and urgency in our present state of affairs. Of course, the “new desert—its bumper crop of bone and brick” could just as well be the subtitle of this blog, couldn’t it?

And speaking of deserts, Austin is running out of water:

Should combined storage drop below 600,000 acre-feet, 30 percent of capacity, the LCRA Board will issue a Drought Worse than the Drought of Record declaration. Following a state-approved plan, LCRA would then require cities, industries and other firm customers to reduce their water use by 20 percent, and would cut off all Highland Lakes water to interruptible customers. LCRA now projects that the earliest that combined storage could drop below 600,000 acre-feet is January 2015.

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