Today's poem is by Lisa Olstein

Cinders Of

Never before have I found airplanes
or the blinking red eyes of hundred-story
cranes so beautiful, LA People
eating and drinking and glowing
in hot tubs on rooftops under a few
persistent stars and the silver bodies of
steel origami jets ashing like lit cigarettes
as they sweep languid across the lapis sky.
End of the century is what the scientists say
today, give or take, less. Already we are
in excess. Was it Galileo who dreamt
of a fine-masted ship meant by wind
to explore the heavens? Home, how long
have we longed to leap from you, to return?
A humming colony, ins ide the plane
we breathe obediently our modicum
of bottled air, choiceless, blameless
for decisions made by now so long ago
back on the ground. We would all take more
than our share, but when one among us
cries out, those nearest quickly attend,
the rest stand by, stand guard, we like to
pretend, stand up, stand tall, stand down.
How differently will the moment construe
itself across the screens of our faces later when
once more we tell a story called I Survived.
I'd like to report a woman raving in the street.
I'd like to report a man with no shoes
sleeping on a grate at the corner of Figueroa
and Ninth. I'd like to report a gun in a holster
on a hip in my classroom, a person with
a deadly weapon whose intent I cannot
determine. I'd like to report a desperate hope.
I'd like to report too little, too late. I'd like
to report the newspaper of record. I'd like to
report the victim's family has not yet been
notified. We are gathered here today
in the cinders of pumas wearing Pumas
on rooftops and red-eyes in and out of L.A.
Jellyfish will inherit the earth. We've learned
to despise anything invasive, but everyone loves
a winner. I mean, they may keep their curtain
closed, but first class would turn to us in a heartbeat,
in a pinch. Let's say someone needed to be
tackled or something malfunctioned and for once
back here there was more air. We wouldn't
hold it against them. Last night on the street
beneath a bullet like this one I drank in a life
story because I was thirsty. I shared one
because I was asked. This, too, was a version
of the conversation we keep needing
not to let ourselves have.

Copyright © 2017 Lisa Olstein All rights reserved
from Late Empire
Copper Canyon Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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