Ozymandias, Born Again
Walking the blue streets of Atlanta,
the old pavement curves
and writhes like a thick, glyphic skin.
Hardwood roots tentacle-up
from below and ripple the road
with convex dimples.
Electricity travels over our heads
through fat-bellied wires,
black snakes strung
by stripped posts. The air is heavy
with wireless radiation,
the dark human magic of signals
juicing up the cellular night,
the skyline’s neon blush.
I hold the hand of my lover,
and the city lights candy our eyes.
But the dirt is voracious,
and it will wait centuries for supper.
The stones know the monstrosity
of its patience, its quiver
and throb. Lord, this is what
we call forgiven: a dank, spindling
root swelling its tongues
in the darkness of dead bodies
that once coruscated
with bulbs of light, of light …
of artificial light.
Arkansas Governor Argues to Preserve Buffalo RiverFrogs of every size and kind join with unnumbered katydids to make the summer night musical for the tired camper seeking rest and relief from social and political problems, and the fevered market place” –Gov. Orval Faubus, 1965
How human is the night-time
when furtive bodies
lie fetal-flat, delectable, thrumming
and our ears absorb
the bottomless hymns of toads,
the crunchy chortle of katydid?
As if we didn’t need our pyramids,
our station, class, color,
as if we didn’t have to buy and sell,
protect our own, defend prowess,
I exist here, where the sun isn’t
gargling the air
in its million-mile throat.
Here, where we do not
need walls of segregation or bills
of reparation, where there is
campless night—no riot-coddling,
neither fevered guard,
nor picket line, no boycott, no burst.
And I am overtired
from the restless dogs of my soul.
The silver glow in the palm
of my hand seeks the dank loam
and its muddy mouths.
Give me not the lines of parties,
Let me last on the Buffalo River,
as soft and common
a mother to this land as ever will come.
It’s raining on Atlanta,
though the sun’s blades cut
through the fat atmosphere.
I hear wet drops, individual
on the rooftop, clumping over
tree, stone, dirty palate.
Each one holy, detected,
swiveling round, nervous
instrumental. The Earth
as a series of angry buttons
clatters through green brown, leaves.
Fluid blotch, stone form.
Liquid centipede—horizontal flow,
stained-glassy muck-leaf to upright,
bacterial palace, fungal stump.
God, let us valley out, grow up
of our bone-towered waterfalls,
pleading, pumped by drum-full thrust.
Jesse Breite's recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Tar River Poetry, Chiron Review, and Prairie Schooner. FutureCycle Press published his first chapbook, The Knife Collector, in November 2013. Jesse lives with his wife, Emily, in Atlanta, Georgia, but he was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and considers it his home.