OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 7

Lauren Camp

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