The Town That Becomes This

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June 1, 2015 by The Citron Review

by Michael Boyko

 

after Sandburg

This broken intersection
where the barest of bones
share a square mile
with the fairest of homes

Where the limbs are swaddled
in soiled bandages
and the clean silk is discarded
for a wine stain.

The scent of the moment commingles
with mountain air and a down-the-leg
piss trickle. A torn catheter bag is graced
by a fallen, one of a pair, artisan-crafted
lost earring.

The unifying sauce that we all
lose ourselves in flows freely
from the microbreweries and run-down
convenience stores, both delivering
solutions in which we dissolve
our identities.

We escape ourselves at our own peril.
Leave the lingering eye contact to the
dreaming hippies. Laugh together,
that they think they’re awake.

And in this corner…

A crazed man-child clotheslines
a tired guy walking his bike
up the sidewalk.
A singular act of lower middle class
drug-induced rage. A power play
that yields no power.
The guy just planks on his back and
his bike clatters around,
a cluster of concern appearing
around him. The muscled up boy
and his bro whoop and hoot,
say yeah a lot and smack their fists.

Maybe we send boys to die in war because
we don’t have enough compassion
for what comes home. Our pupils can’t
dilate far enough to encompass all
of the victims. They nest, the infinite
matryoshka that hides what we do
inside more boxes than we have
the keys for. Or the keyring
has become so heavy, so crowded,
and we failed to label any of them.
Probably on purpose.

Even as observers, we have our own doll in there.
Victim to our own confused empathy.

The good guys are the bad guys, and they are all
drinking together down the street.
Driving home drunk.

 

Michael C. Boyko is the author of The Hour Sets published by Calamari Press. His work has appeared in WebConjunctions, Tarpaulin Sky, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Asheville, NC.

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Snow on brush in desert

IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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