Thirstland

I OMEN

Until now, no one spoke of dams:
chalk bowl rain-catchers
big providing things
big contained walled things
bolted fonts, ready sources.

Until now, in my city,
there was little cause for talk –
for naming, counting, measuring, predicting
for remembering, blaming, urging, pleading.
Years we forgot the tardive rains
until our own,
owed,
owned
water
began to ebb away.

The great dam, on the river-without-end, is ending.
Not too long ago there were speedboats on it.
People cannot sell those speedboats
fast enough.

The fire-blown mountain passes
brindled with blackened brush,
are unscenic
unfitting
unprofiting
as the dead lawns in the suburbs.

In the deep, on the Flats,
in the Place of the Sun and the Place of Moon,
the taps are communal (it sounds better than it is).
People there wash in buckets, anyway
and so will we, soon,
when our tubercular shower heads splutter, cough
and our swimming pools vanish into the ground
as the Sun drinks his fill of what’s ours.

I live in a city that was long thirsty
before the water ran out.

II LEVELING

Is this how the city I live in
will finally be equal?

Trembling on the vast waste
of one, singular experience

when all it’s ever known is water
when all it’s ever known is drought.

What is the new normal?
when before,
normal for most was buckets and wind and heat
when before,
normal for some was flood and fountain and flow?

III THIRST

My city is a refreshment station
that provides no relief.

Those with their own pieces of ground
drill deep to loosen the springs beneath.
To justify the verdure of their lawns.

In the suburbs, competition soars,
between those who’ve never known thirst.
Like golf
but higher stakes.

We forget that it’ll not be long
until our comforts are made useless,
bodily functions brim to the bowl,
and smells tell others
things about us
that,
before this
were so much easier to mask,
And the queues for life, for water,
start to form.

IV MEMORY

I live a city that is touched
by two independent oceans.
Not a drop to drink.

The time has come.
I have lived to see the day when inflatable pools
became contraband,
Alive to witness
patrons clawing each other for table water at restaurants,
gazing on the lawns of their neighbors
assessing their greenness
and whether any one was green enough,
to raise the alarm.

The public fountain
where children and drunk businessmen used to bathe,
stands silent in the square
A dirty car’s a badge of pride
fingers slide
in the dirt more often now,
drawing what you can think of
on rear windows.

wash me

can’t,
sorry.

Sonnet 4 | the eternity of jellyfish

  1. The ripeness of bacon.
  2. The bloom of drought.
  3. The leisure of an ocean sunfish.
  4. The whimsy of the stock market.
  5. The glamour of swimming pools.
  6. The stelliform of star anise.
  7. The itch of envy.
  8. The touch of distraction.
  9. The squeak of halloumi cheese.
  10. The pageantry of perfume advertisements.
  11. The color of Black Friday.
  12. The dappledness of cellulite.
  13. The eternity of jellyfish.
  14. The virulence of the holidaying public.

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