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Sep 15

Afterward

by William Doreski

Having lain awake all night
in the shrubbery in front of the bank,
I’m rigid as a stop sign,
my bones at odds with each other
and my breakfast-passion ripe
and quaint as the sexual prowess
our culture used to glorify
with sloppy kisses and sultry looks.

Now that we’re homeless by edict
of global corporate ambition
and loll all day in the shadow
of buildings where once we worked,
the body exacts its revenge
and refuses the simple desires
that empowered the national will.

Childless I maunder to the railroad
and walk the rusty, unloved tracks
beside the mill pond. Already
heat rises from the smooth expanse
of toxic water, the upturned
carcasses of ducks adrift and
bloated, men and women still asleep
under brush above the water-line.

No one’s to blame. Indebted
to interplanetary forces
no physicist could name, we rolled
belly-up and died. Mortgages
and taxes and credit-card debt
faded when we ripped our clothes
and exposed our bodies to gases
hissing from interstellar space.

After the moment of nakedness
no one would enter a house again,
not in the history of this world.
I follow the railroad a mile
or two north and stare at the torn
carcass of a diner where once
I ate pancakes and sausage patties.
No one would enter that hulk
now, no one will eat cooked meat
in this overripe vegetable world.

I sit in the dust and consider
how cruel were the automobiles
when they ran, how beautifully they rust
now, their mildewed interiors
breathing a flowery odor.

Men and women cross the square,
alone or in groups of three or four.
How terrible that once we wore clothes
and distinguished each other by name!
The perpetual summer light
explodes those useless notions,
exposes the wrought machinery,
the windblown scraps of money,
the unusable sexual organs
everyone knew were to blame.

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