Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

On Peripheries of the Imperium


                                    I

Eye of the hurricane the Battery, the Hudson
breached, millions of gallons of it
north on West Street filling Brooklyn-Battery
Tunnel, overflowing into the World Trade Center site,
East River, six-to-eight-foot wall of water on South,
Front, Water, John, Fulton, Pearl,
Brooklyn Bridge's woven cables lifted delicately
in hurricane sky.
 

                                    II

Perhaps I make too much of it, that time,
Eldon Axle, brake plates dipped
in some sort of liquid to protect them from
dust, dirt, metal chips the grinding caused—
that time, night shift, press-machine shop
on Outer Drive, rolls of stainless steel put in,
fixed up, because the work you do is around fire
your cuticles burn if the mask's not on right.
 

                                    III

When the mind is clear, to hear the sound
of a voice, of voices, shifts in the attitude
of syllables pronounced. When the mind
is clear, to see a Sunday, in August, Shrine
of Our Lady of Consolation, Carey, Ohio,
at a holy water font, a mother washes
her six-year-old's fingers crushed in an accident
so that they'll heal.
 

                                    IV

So what percentage of Weasel Boy's DNA
do you think is pure weasel? Tooth-twisted,
Yeats's weasels, in "Nineteen Hundred
and Nineteen," fighting in a hole.
 

                                    V

Conflated, the finance vectors, opaque
cyber-surveillance, supranational cartels,
in the corporate state's political-economic singularity
the greatest number of children
in United States history are, now, incarcerated,
having been sentenced by law.
 

                                    VI

A comic dimension to it, on this F-Train
to One Hundred Sixty-ninth Street
in Queens? He doesn't want to disturb you,
but, see, he was stabbed in the face
with an ice pick, he lost his left eye—
lid pried open with thumb and forefinger—
here, look, he'll show you—
a white-and-pink-colored iris.


Lawrence Joseph

So Where Are We?
Farrar, Straus and Giroux


To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php