the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2007



Allen C. Fischer

The Art of Grand Designs

If space were a stuck pig or, less
primitively put, the bristle of yonder,
then what about a city’s saw-toothed
skyline and steely aspirations?
Fog judges not but composes
the mysteries of mind and matter.
Gray is its word and tomorrow
a humorous sentence.

Though its swarm appears to lay on airs
of stealth and disguise, fog embraces
things without question. After all,
why get embroiled in small differences,
the politics of high church or low?
Fog leaves the construction of such
designs to men, whose aim it is to punch
holes in space.


Alarm goes off. Clothing awaits embodiment,
coffee the miracle of water and heat.
Your mouth is open for business.
What it takes in is your affair.
But what it advocates
invades the public domain, where anyone
within earshot may object to your calling.

You can’t yell fuck this,
when the coffee is bad.
People listen and, worse,
suspect you’re addressing them.
As language lets out its voice,
curse gives way to fists,
flesh to weapon, and suddenly

you’re embroiled in a small war.
All over coffee and a couple of words.
It’s enough to make a man
take a vow of silence
before the next volley,
before another day arrives
with its reveille.


Red, green, gray, blind-sided.
The flattened sedans clatter by,
wrecks piled on a truck

like mattresses from a flop house
eviction. Destined for smelter and
refabrication, they will be reborn,

unlike the bodies removed from them,
lives which plowed into each other,
caged in toys designed for speed,

sleek metal driven
by big-timers who tear ass,
lose control. Crash.


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