Today's poem is by Brian Swann

The Man at the Dump

You might say everything's here
for a reason because it needs to be here
though how it arrived isn't always clear.
Sometimes you don't know what you want
until you find it. Or you can see it but not know
what it is. Chrysophyte, for instance,
the ice-flower, only one, way in the corner
where the land rises to caves and foothills.
You'd need a book to tell you it exists,
but it's there, where even flies don't go,
relic of the tundra. And then there's
the other stuff nobody wants, rooftiles
and engine blocks, ovens and old cans,
a wonky trike: mixen, spelf. But there's
a catalpa too, roots deeper than the dross,
a tulip tree and scyamine (perhaps) whose
berries shine even at night when, as everywhere,
the Pleiades swing naked and frore like
trapeze artists. If you stand on that toilet bowl
you might be able to touch them. Certainly,
a Gaughin could come here and choose
his vahine, have his way and leave her
isolate as Tlingit, talking to herself. Sure,
there's a price to pay for all this. The odor,
for one, pyretic and sickening, that could,
I'm sure, from time to time melt the polar
ice caps. But the moon is unaffected, and the dog,
part-coyote, and in habits at least part pi-dog,
his head on my knee, takes it all in as patchouli.
This was a quarry once. A city was built from its stone.
You can still see rusted machinery. Sometimes kids
play on it now the gates are down and warning signs
peppered with buckshot. Paper drifts about over
everything we once wanted and now don't, like
that ladder. It's new. How did it get here?
What's its story? How high'll it go? This place
is prone to stars though they look like broken glass.
Sometimes something explodes. So watch out.
Fires run underground. There's something for everyone.
You can't make this stuff up. But it's tired.
I'm tired too. From time to time trucks rumble in
with dirt. That's how they deal with it. It isn't there.
Never was. Flattened, filled. Gone, trove and trope.
They'll stick up a few signs saying something could
be hazardous. Schwarmerei. Hrog.

Copyright © 2006 Brian Swann All rights reserved
from Southwest Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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