Today's poem is by Joshua Harmon

Hooker Avenue Serenade

An aluminum box fan in a window
and rain's ruckle in the leaves:
Poughkeepsie during the reign
of summer's anonymity:
a telegraphic tangent
as if the disbursement would take
less time than whatever backyard
insurrection we see ourselves
fighting: the urban developmentally
disabled shoot hoops off
the absence of a twelve-hour
workday and elaborate reprisals
against a worn gear: we may
memorize the sounds of cars,
the scent of scalded coffee
in a paper cup, the provisional
evening's offhand weather and
the decadent position of picket-
fence espionage, the urge,
the reason: it's all
embarrassing, a historical
fiction, like the corona
of a streetlight in actionable haze,
or forty-one hundredths
of an acre: will build to suit
the most primitive needs:
but in the documentary
of fulfillment, the arcana of
the inner lives in the inner city
in our keeping annul emotional
reactions to rustproofed circumstances,
as when the band kicks into an uptempo
4/4 inside the parked car
where a man sits, one door slung ajar
and a post-surgical leg extended
like the persistent concussions
of masculinity: it is Context,
not event: your world and your
pronoun, the index of your company
and the discordances of things unframed:
the reification of leisure and the dead
moths blown in from a windowsill
'cause that's the way thunderstorms roll
down from the hills to summer's
squandered extenuations: I inhabit
outcomes in order to disappoint
myself with the traces
of a single diminishment, like
the fourteen year-old girl from down
the street who aims a flashlight
through my mail slot and asks me
to call the police: or the other
girl in the video walking
quietly along a brick sidewalk
with a plastic bag caught on her foot
until the camera loses her
around a corner: but the still
lives abolish themselves
in our unstructured privacies
when all the young girls worry
about the restoration
of peer groups in the confines
left by decency and need:
up through another night,
a rabbity boredom remains
in the purifying force of a limited
vocabulary grafted to a delay
that shadows darker moments
under rain-rosaried power
lines: under the most democratic
rain: the most diligent rain:
up through the night,
the rituals and conditions
call in sick to spend earliest
morning revisiting the fugitive appeals
of retouched and worthless grief,
the crookedest lines apparent
in an arbitrary realism:
like a dream of more correct uses
for loose facts: we own what we do
in between the workings of the work
and the power of two cameras
on the tallest buildings in a small city:
up all night, rewinding the tape-spliced beats
of moth wings on a screen
flecked with rain: and how do I fit in
-to the vision of the young woman
I saw, arms scrolled with ink,
chemical hair, steering her
wheelchair outside the chain
-linked basketball court's three-on-three:
the attention to another body's
elements, the most spectacular
passages: and the usual methods
of news-gathering, such as seven
satellite dishes bolted to asbestos
shingles, or the observer's
unmeasured position by a window:
a blinking amber half
a mile away that no one
witnesses, a landmark we get
so far from home: and rain: "I'm like the
king of a rainy country": but
even the verdant gardens
begin to rot: we live so near the thourough
-fare's finite comforts, the last
legitimate wreckage: and my
memory is made of brick and concrete

(Note: the phrase "I'm like / king of a rainy country" is taken from Charles Baudelaire's poem "Spleen (III)," as translated by Richard Howard.)

Copyright © 2011 Joshua Harmon All rights reserved
from New South
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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