We have replaced our heart muscle kitsch with new machines.
With their steady rumble.
Just as all bodhisattvas practice detachment—like a flower that doesn’t turn for the sun.
You transcribe grief into flickering pixels of light darkened by a gray wash.
I grip the corners of a desk.
Old mechanics, built on gear shafts & oil reservoirs, have been swapped out for optics, atomics.
Fans still turn, though-- I watch your hair blowing in frames per second.
But I can't hear your lips drawn flat.
This in the house precision built--
I know the minute of the hour you first showed me fear.
Diagrams of how you tried to tie it off—your ashen fingers holding knots against a black background.
The new machines hardly sputter.
The bodhisattvas warning us not to grasp.
Everywhere the old march on tradition & I am scolded on how I love.
There is no music. There is always music.
A DJ digs through a root cellar of forgotten records, flipping each one over.
I have never seen you crying, but I have seen your cheeks slicked wet like a stone.
Behind every single is engraved another song.
You keep a record of how your hands look tangled in your hair—I listen.
the outskirts here come trimmed in coal dust where the city & its story arrive at a ragged stop this is what is left waiting to be reclaimed by rave or erosion two different species of night
a path cuts through it splitting the factory from the depot the soot from the dirt bicycles hurtling toward the river violet turquoise white & chrome a bridge waiting at the port’s far end to carry them across & away
standing near the mouth of the old textile plant I can see the cyclists arriving on the opposite bank where a park unrolls its lawns & a fountain throws up its many arms
you would know this doesn’t interest me since I left you plucking at flower petals I skulk around old machine looms while grease drips on my head
spring has been so slow in coming this year the thaw is hard to measure in the shadow of a smokestack it could still be mid-February I could still wave farewell but there is no such thing as a clean edge
the snowdrift doesn’t say anymore if it ever did come now like a doily it is only remembered whiteness sinking into blond bone it softens in the mind the brain the water crystals hollow ringing contour of the world we made disappear like rhinoceros like indigenous tongues licked chalk bare the bone washing ashore the heaps trashed into bare libraries triage children donated pictures of the extinct the extinguished
Jeremy Allan Hawkins has been the recipient of a grant from the US Fulbright Program and a teaching fellowship from the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project. His poetry has appeared in multiple journals and was selected for the Best New Poets 2016 anthology. He is the author of A Clean Edge, selected by Richard Siken as the winner of the 2016 BOAAT Chapbook Prize and forthcoming in 2017. He lives in France.