The night sweats through the humidity,
our humanity exhausted on the porch
collapses from the draw of breath
through the thick Autumn air.
Steam and mosquitoes, blood and bile
are mingling with the mist
of burning crosses, churches, forests
as our spirits are paved under
by carpetbagging revenuers
who worship at the font of progress
while drowning our children in the water
meant for the improvement of man.
The morning breaks at eighty degrees
as the sun strains through ancient oaks.
mark the memories of generations
blanketed in tar and steel and concrete
over the coquina sands of our ancestors
fed by the silent Aucilla and cacophonous swamps.
Old men cypresses are slaughtered for clocks,
their knees cut out from under them, choking
as their blood is leeched for another suburb
where timed rain beats the four o’ clock downpour,
and waters the evergrowing asphalt.
The day beats in volcanic reality,
smothering all intention and thought.
The freoned tinted castles lord on,
the strapped Earth begging for a hurricane
more crafty than the newest building codes,
they continue in their oblivion
as the alligator stalks the cul-de-sac for another poodle,
and another child swims for the final time
as the marcite reflects the sun onto his face,
waiting for mommy to return, arms full of bags
to wonder where the housekeeper has gone
as her favorite soaps blast into the windows.
The evening drifts up from the glazed streets
after cars disappear into cement caves.
Bare feet step out into drying sand
to pick ripe tomatoes for dinner.
The sun sinks behind Spanish moss
and a last ray dances through Depression glass
to kiss the simple ring that reaches over the stove
to the spices that will kiss the wrinkled recipe
that has defied the swell of the growing years
and retains the taste of sinking into the freshest dreams.
Every native who has loved the soil and the salt
prays for peace with each day’s passing.
Stray dogs are ripping widowed paper bags.
Nearby lies a broken heel; a leg out of place;
a skirt, hem slung around; a mouth that sags:
a hole in a yellow, faded, made-up face.
A mongrel tears a strip of rawhide free
from a faded bag. His teeth sink in the soft skin
as bitter drops fall from the balcony
where a girl is wringing out her clothes again.
His ears twitch, hit with the brown sinkwater
that pours from dirty panties. He turns his tongue
to lap the steady stream. The girl drops her
wet rags, coughing. He gnaws at the blood and dung.
The mongrel drops his skin in the filthy light.
Her love is coming home to stay tonight.
G.M. Palmer preaches, teaches, and wrangles children on an urban farm in Northeast Florida. His criticism and poetry can be found throughout various blogs and magazines, both in print and online. His children can be found throughout the neighborhood or at their
grandmother’s house. His notes can be found on legal pads and spiral notebooks. His business cards can be found with neat little poems on the back of them.