OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 7
No Defense, No Readiness
This season of lost resolve, of moon ovals lengthening
toward tender land. The weather of sudden braking—
all we know is a badly adorned gray.
We each want to hear an old symphony. Against traffic
at the new concrete sculpture, car windows fill
with nearsighted days. Our sympathies slip to firewood
and everlasting dinners. We want rapture or a dream trip
to Cuba. Instead, we drive past a stash of grease. We exist
with doomed enthusiasm, used to this year,
and post our nothings with misspelled disappointments.
A train rattles past with its large mouth.
The clouds all alike inhabit the view. We’re dead
center in this barren landscape. Around us,
people look down, brooding and small, fold their hats.
The Slow Day Explaining the Shallow Attention
In the blue room where he measures the floor tiles, the man waits
for the messenger to arrive.
The messenger speaks to him in the lean shelter
and vast environment
of echoes and bends. He says, Why are your minutes full
of thin heartbeats? Why have you tied
such a small line to the commands?
The man has always respected his elders.
I will bring you my jewels, he says.
I will take you through the empty hull of my streets.
The palm tree at the window raises its shoulders
and the man sees the palm tree has cleared away the buildings
of their glass breezes
and left the unvarying crayons
of morning. Repetition of orchids.
The man’s words stack into theories that he bullies around.
He asks the messenger, Can I follow you to the parking lot
to better manage my waning?
Can I travel in the same shade of wheels turning?
The messenger listens to the man all in orange.
Slow down, he says.
What occurs to the man are constant
unanswerable names. After that, the orbit
of his final statement.
He strips infinity to Tuesday, Friday, August.
The man is wedged in the racket of a mind made of blackbirds.
He wants to skim the room of its photos and pack his bag.
The messenger says quietly to the man,
Be all ease. Listen to the bells overhead, to the feathers
excused from supple language. Sit
with the sun and believe its hesitations.
The messenger promises when they go it will be sideways:
cracked skin, bathroom flanks, measured persistence.
They will walk to the layers of solitude.
Marvel together in the false full moon, and spirit
the disappearance, those unnecessary words.
Lauren Camp is the author of four books, including One Hundred Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize and finalist for the Arab American Book Award. Her most recent collection is Turquoise Door. Her poems have appeared in The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Slice, The Tampa Review, Crazyhorse, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in New Mexico. www.laurencamp.com