Monday Poem


Goaded by hurricane the river raged through
on a tear to the sea taking trucks and trees
Oil tanks bobbed under bridges
on swells of liquid gravity
a wood-framed studio pirouetted from its piers
off downstream, a ship of art, rudderless
until it lodged against the steel
lifts of the dam gates
Cellars filled with silt
and whatever the river’d dredged
from back-yard cesspools
from gardens of summer afternoons
from landfills and barns,
leaving earth and offal recollections
along its banks, in basements,
across fields of flattened corn
that had been high enough for its
cobbed yield to have smiled yellow
from white plates until the hurricane
laid it low, tens-of-thousands of stalks
a quashed mat after the pull
of the river’s winnowing rake,
supine as a man after a swift life
lies still before the sweep of the sea

by Jim Culleny