August heat and arial moisture
drives us to the river; to jump in
and drink its amber liquor—
it’s a calming haze and a cigarette after.
the foam shimmers, this sunlight deludes
in slick industrial passage;
the water’s cold.
nearby the bitter dry grass and shrubs
are ready to kindle; to feed the flames
birthed from the swelter we breathe—
the water reaches not so up to it.
above us only rollers paint the sky
not sponge dabs or brush strokes
but it’s utterly smooth:
i need to see roughness to know i can rattle
i need to see roughness to sooth it out with my hand.
up is endlessly slick—
here is jagged and brutal.
when we lie out naked
the vittles cling to us as we roll;
when we rise the desolates prick our feet
when we stand: out blood is all the moisture
these barren morsels shall drink today.
this strip of Earth is barren,
but the air surrounding us is so fertile
that even to feel it against our faces
makes our minds wander:
as a swarm of sweaty palms
the river currents rush over the riverbed
quenching the eroded rocks below,
and they smooth out like the skin on our backs
when tampered with. it’s all part of a vision
—sacred, perhaps, in that it
what the LORD commanded of us—
where we can swim with the gushing current
and we can feel the foam pop against
our torsos and our loins.
all this makes me thirsty,
all this makes me know that no rivers in this building
where we sit,
hoping for a slice of air to cool us,
and for, if anything at all,
a way to ease the burning on our skin
and on our flesh—
it’s too much to handle right now
without a glass of wine in my hand
and a bottle of champagne on my head.
this land is of dying, suffering,
we are of dying, suffering.