Brandon Rushton's poems appear in Denver Quarterly, Hayden's
Ferry Review, CutBank, Sonora Review, and Passages North
among other journals. In 2016, he was the winner of both the
Gulf Coast Prize and the Ninth Letter Award for Poetry. In
2017 he served as the Theodore Roethke Fellow at the Marshall
Fredericks Museum. Born and raised in Michigan, he now lives
and writes in Charleston, South Carolina and teaches poetry
and composition at the College of Charleston (USA).
In the God-Awful Age of Everyone
Perhaps this is all a new attempt
at going paperless. An electronic
signature required to solidify
the pact-of-privacy between himself
and the non-judgmental mind
he tells his madness to. Fundamentally
a vortex first establishes an axis
and—only then—engineers some type
of funnel. At our most ambitious
we rearrange the living room and return
to our reclining. Perpendicular
to public thought is personal endeavor.
Note how a human lacking reach
will return shortly with a ladder. The body
initiates a warrant—without expiration
—until it satisfies its wanting. Tonight
someone will grow famous.
Forgive her. The night clerk not batting
an eye or concerning herself
with tabloid. Instead, only concentrating
on the voice inside her head, why
it sounds so different than the one she uses
when she speaks. An auditorium mic
remains on and catches feedback from
the rafters. The students are young
and history is still sexy—it's a skin they haven't
tried to shed. This will all be
memorialized, somehow. A spontaneous
presentation is never any less
prepared. A critically-aware-comment
at the foot of a monument is just
the thought-out-observation made
at a distance. We erect another statue
and dedicate it in whomever's honor.
Kids leave their hand marks
in the courthouse concrete. Hopeful
and deliberate in its execution,
a highway makes us faster.
A semi's second trailer detaches
like a loose thought and destroys
the procession as it follows.
It is now a news anchor's responsibility
to deliver. How has it come to this: us
seeking ways to repay the repairman
for doing—this time—what he
promised. Apparently, a tornado picks up
a trampoline to put it in
the neighbor's pool. To remind us
of our place: a hallway bathroom
where we are hiding from debris. Right on cue
the redevelopment commences:
construction cones and caution lights
dam up the process of our driving.
Plexiglas replaces the interim plywood
and people resume watching
parades of other people in the street.
A crossing guard pots a replacement
plant and angers at its posture, the way
it drapes and disrupts his dusting.
There is hardly such a duty
one might volunteer for. Everything
seems so self-indulged. Even the renovated bridge
is arrogant in its rising. There is
no true perception. For example, a nap
alters our understanding
of the afternoon. Just accept it: there is no good way
to get given up on. A cardiologist
returns a defibrillator to its charger
and calls out a time of death.
Vacancy depends on a projection
of the population checking out.
She marvels at the oversaturation
of our species while she pushes
through a group of people toward an exit
in an effort to inhale the fresh and toxic
hustling of the street. The media reports smoke
hasn't been seen in the mountains
for months. She lassos the little animal
in her abdomen and coaxes it back
to sleep. She longs to lift an ax and split
the kindling, kindly. For a body washed
up and pulled back into the bay. Something simple
like that, signifying we're here
for the long haul. Some permanent
impermanence. Artificial lawn ornaments
mimicking the animals they counterpart. Campsites
complete with fake flamingos.
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