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Grotesque pilgrimage to where? Lost and lost
again, where glutted aisles of traffic surge,
then genuflect at each red light, the dirge
of revved engines like thuribles of exhaust.
All must crawl in fitful supplication.
We expect bad martyrdoms. Cars career
with zealots whose curses mean to lead somewhere,
heedless of speed or approximation.
Scooters bow down to the taxi, taxis
bow down to trucks, and trucks acquiesce
to lines ordained by the urban axis,
the god of our new testament. We give
ourselves up to the waste like a sacrifice
in a smog of burnt fuel, thick and votive.
for Edward Thomas
I listen to the rain, a monotone
of trickles, taps, and spatters on stone.
Its sing-song cadence is unsteady;
the anthem to an empty mood. I envy
the sound, expected only to stammer
broken sea-chanteys like a weepy drinker,
as some days I am desperate to be
nameless, unhuman and beautiful. Many
dark days of rain you praised, Edward––
you sand the wet earth you were drawn toward
until it drank you down in Flanders.
The names, the studied sounds, the prayers
you scribbled out hang in the weather now,
as the glow of a streetlight makes shadows bow
where pine trees jig in the thunderstorm,
as if the ghosts of what you felt had form.