Poem for the Day: October 28th, 2021

Appalachian Cityscape by J. David

sidewalks here brag windchimes and landmines
we sent to someone else’s children
sometime halfway between home & working to death
& the news never showed us any casualties
without white faces

our hearts couldn’t make less
of a difference—
kept coming up zeroes on the scale
when nobody bought into the system
stacked atop a thousand years of bread while the crows
laughed from behind their picket lines & an apocalypse hit—

left us so far backward our sins fell out
& we were nothing to god

someday the freight-train grows up & everybody cheers
for breakfast like they’re finally getting fed a hung jury
or a vomit stain on a factory-stack
we were supposed to clean
as if it wasn’t already too late
to save our planet from ourselves

city lights come out dancing
when calamity turns up
at the family party & we knew then
we’d written enough
persona poems for other people’s grief
to place the blame on someone else
for all the murders

god-machine said none of us
were allowed to hear prayer any longer
& the saddest part is
we got caught with our hands red in a forest of sunflowers

considering the circumstances
skyscrapers look too much like dead bodies
to be comfortable with stepping out the front door

heroin built a church on our street
& everyone showed up to mass
wearing shirts that said
keep out the liquor stores

just goes to show—being liberal never saved anybody
when the factories left

we stuck our heads in closets
after we mailed our principles
to four years from now & the government
called it a write-off when they taxed the poor
out of town but we knew better
than to ask poor folks to beat us kind

the whole block lit up like a bug-jar in june
stapled to the back of a climate crisis
when the kids came home drunk again

better late than dead

better dead than prison

everyone’s uncle got parole & we came home
when we heard our mothers calling
to say the hospital burned
a hole in the budget

spent our twenties buying flowers
for graveyards

spent our twenties in closets
retrieving our heads
& nobody clapped
when the war ended

you must have heard by now—
god came knocking
& nobody answered the door

© 2021 J. David. Today’s poem was taken from Harvard Review Online, which is published by Houghton Library at Harvard University under the auspices of the college’s President and Fellows. J. David (they/them) is the chief poetry critic for the Cleveland Review of Books as well as the editor-in-chief of Flypaper. Their work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Salt Hill, The Colorado Review, Redivider, and Passages North, among other presses and publications.

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