Firework Elegy, First Snow
Inside an olive sky,
they huddled on quilts
stretched over hills. They waited
for the bright
splashes thrown at the sky,
the ways of speaking—light, spark, rise.
He hated that this was home. For him,
these holidays would be different,
but they opened mouths, shouted
to each blast,
dressed their children
with fire and flags. While faces faced
the heavens, he clutched
grass from the ground,
but soon let go,
let his body touch the earth.
His hands shook.
The colors continued to sound. He covered
his face with a forearm.
From the sky,
it’s a wonderful war.
Tracer round reds, blooming
and all our cigarettes,
one for every dying star.
I'm driving on a road that will not explode.
Out the window, stiff white pines
huddle above the wall of limestone
torn with dynamite
to make space
for the three lanes of 77 North.
Trash is still suspicious.
A bag. A bottle. A bump
in the gravel. Torn patches
of iced grass.
I used to dream of men with shovels.
beside the long Iraq road,
smiling with triangular teeth
chiseled from shrapnel
jut from wine-red gums.
They sow the soil with bombs,
or what we name:
Improvised Explosive Device.
Although there is a hole
in this roof, Spoonman doesn't
sit on a strap, body not
half out in the open-air, cigarette not
on lips, machinegun not mounted, not
held in his greasy hands not there.
I've left college to drive home
for Thanksgiving. The first flakes of snow
touch—flail—across the windshield,
fade behind me on the black concrete.
As I push the switch, the sunroof slides
to let in the wind, the snow,
and who can say about loving—
when we put holes in our roofs for the sky—
that we don't, and we can't.