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Dolsy Smith

On the wrong and burning side
of reason, in the Midwest, where we need
each one of us his soundtrack, the shudder
and crouch of freeways drops suburbs,
and every city uncovers its slow, weed-starred

apocalypse. The grass grows soft
at the highway's edge, good for walking.
But cars ride hard into the rain, each one lifting
its fringe of spray, and the eighteen-wheelers pass without stopping
first this town, then the next, like arks

for all things worthy on Earth. I live in this
town, not another. One tries to love, as in the movies
it behooves us, but a red dress moving toward
me lights such flares before her beauty's blur
comes into focus, youth's soft conclusion

to a face young no longer, and then she's gone. At night,
when I grasp nothing, the radio's wires
burn into me the songs that cauterize
this thinking stump, this coincidence of meat
pinned in terror against its inner cage. On the news

in the heart of the city an abattoir
caught fire: raw, marbled luxury in a last
freak sacrifice. How long, I wonder, did the taste
infuse the air? How long will the small fact of our
once having roamed? And then? —A pasture

where no one feels like singing, unless with the skill
hands have, as in films I've seen the deaf do,
their taut hands building something tall and still
between them. Or else, like porn, on mute—and no
rejoicing shall spoil the labor of those lips.






Regarding the poem's germination, I nominate westbound Jackson Avenue outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan; spring rain; and whatever was playing on my Walkman at the time. About the rest, I must be mute.