America Without the Rising Waters
is like doughnuts without doughnuts, rain
without fingers—it’s like fingers dancing, dancing,
dancing across the dining table, coming for
your French fries, the elephant in the palm tree,
the world in a frying pan. I’d like to skip the eggplant,
but skipping the eggplant is not an option.
Roll the dice is what I think the sign said in its daunting
foreign language—it was a command, and still I refused.
Sing, sing while you can, said the newspaper, there is still
time for music, books, babies, more books. Even at this
late date, we still receive mail in boxes attached to our
houses! Ours is a world as wondrous as it is bombful.
This consideration, God, it gets harder the longer it
goes on, like anything. Is the answer light and time?
Communication by phone, séance, magic ball, fist?
Every thing is at our disposal. Is that the problem? Yes, I have
trained mountains to go canoeing. Yes, I have camped
in the clouds, angels on all sides partying into the night.
What is left? What is that mystery ball at the end? Tell me
everything I need to know, right here, please—let’s stop
in this field wheat. Start from the beginning. Leave
I am not o.k. with America, its obsession with coastline and pastries, the same self-indulgences that clog our hearts are also the root of all evil and climate change. And all of us thinking we’re A-OK and cha-cha-cha-ing through life, never realizing how redundant we are. There are other places in the world where elephants matter, where palm trees aren’t grown to have their hearts consumed as easily as a fried egg. Places in the world where the eggplants have no seeds and every move is a gamble or a prognostication, and every gamble begets a chorus. This is news to some folks, and some folks fake sad violin music in their attempt to be comic in their contempt. Do they read or do they say, “I wrote the book on that,” as they scramble at each calendar notification, feel hollow when their inboxes are empty. We’re all just time bombs! All I can do is resort to aphorisms: the key is in your hand, you will see the light, time is running out. To be honest, all I see in the future is punching the lights out of strangers, my fist pummeling through time like a train. This is my mountain. This is my lake. I’ve staked my claim with only the clouds to act as notaries. Soon it will be only the moon’s dark side. Crops will wilt. Leaves fall.
Jenny Browne is the author of three books of poems: Dear Stranger, The Second Reason, and At Once, all from the University of Tampa Press.
Carrie Fountain is the author of two books of poems: Burn Lake and Instant Winner, both from Penguin Books.
Michele Battiste is the author of two books of poems: Uprising and Ink for an Odd Cartography, both from Black Lawrence Press.