Table of Contents - Vol. VI, No. 4
Plumb on the plumb line,
sinker at the end of a rope,
how gravity loves you.
Brightener of walls,
you have dulled the minds of children
yet kept our engines running.
Patron saint of projectiles, protect us from
O balancer of scales, poisoner of empires,
we drink to you
until our gums turn blue.
God of shrapnel, deep in the mine,
whose every word
is a bang or a boom,
pray for us.
Haunted By Blue Sky
If Allah is just,
you shall return to the world and time
to be born in a far away country,
relive the birthdays, love and understand
that you are loved.
You shall graduate, marry,
know all the joys a body knows,
all its sorrows.
There shall be weddings, funerals, divorce,
children of your own.
You shall be brother and sister,
fireman, broker, and cop.
All of them. You shall be them all,
into the naked air.
Feel the floor give way.
Recite the 3,000 names of God
on the staircase
You shall know each intimate death
and yet survive
as widow, widower, and orphan,
condemned to love forever,
haunted by blue sky
end of the block to the other,the burnt-out streetlights leaned into shadow,
the rows of hedges, the blackened doorways,
camouflage for the mugger and the thief,
the houses up to their roofs in darkness.
For 7 days in a row, we called the city.
Busy signals. So
and So away from her desk.
A recorded message announcing the hours
the office was open. Imagine
the answering machine, a Pandora's Box
full of angry voices.
No wonder we heard nothing.
Then, at 3 in the morning,
the sound of an insistent engine.
Outside my window and
below, a white truck straddles the lanes,
a huge metal elbow bolted to the back.
A man in the cab dismounts,
hefts a box from the bed,
climbs into a pulpit at the long end of the arm,
jiggles a switch,
raises himself slowly
as the elbow un-bends,
hovers high over the rain slick pavement,
the truck idling beneath him.
He crinks a flashlight against his cheek,
lifts the lid off the deadened lamppost.
Fumbles a moment.
There is the gleam of glass
as he lifts it out of the box
and twists it?
Jams it home.
The light stutters and
And I see him,
his black face under the plastic helmet,
his orange reflector vest,
as the elbow closes slowly
and he lets himself down, then
heaves something over the tailgate.
I see the bed is heaped with boxes. Some stacked,
Some tossed in at angles,
For the light bulbs he has been changing!
He drives off leaning slightly forward over the wheel.
The sleepy sound of his engine
dims among the shapes of houses;
while behind him, at 3:15, the length of the street
shines in soft rain.
When I drink my fill,sit in council with the paper-hanger,
the itinerant carpenter, the roofer,
maybe a salesman or two,
and we set sail
out on the frothy waves
into the wide blue neon
where the slim young girls go cruising by;
When we raise a round, argue politics, the latest scandals,
always the same: the rich, for sure,
will get richer, while the poor
gun each other down;
Blab our outrage, the city's going to hell!
Empty our pockets, order a shot,
for the john;
by last call,
we're all landlubbers far out to sea;
each goes uneasily home,
past the darkened mouths of alleys,
through the dangerous streets
of our democracy.
© Michael Fallon