Poetry: Erica Dawson



It is the blackout of 2008.

News radio gives it a title so
It is the blackout of 2008.

A hurricane inflates without the rain.
Late Ike, his lurking winds, is lying low
Among the Mason stalks. He goes aloft
To pitch the tarped-pool deck of 4th and Plum.
A tree obstructs the crest of Eden’s hill.

It isn’t snapped in half. It’s just a great
Quarter, steadfast, stead-stuck, and, in the street’s
Three-fourths, its fragments figure into mulch.
In park, I charge my phone. Two children bowl
A tire that stops at nothing but a plate
Of metal. Pick-up games run ragged. I
Can’t hear the Nike’s rubbers crush and sop
Up jimmies, broken glass, the CORRYVILLE
No longer readable, though L and L
Hang loose. They, hinging, roll like windmills when
I joke, alone, today is Armageddon.

The newsman, on the radio, says, don’t
Touch unfamiliar cables. Where’s a fool
When warranted? I see no spark but see
It into happening: spark coked-up moths;
Singe lightning bugs someone should basket for
Kentucky’s new museum’s Creation Fest.
It’s on all summer long. The dj starts.
Fik-it, fik-it—Fire: Adam and Eve,
The sea and all that’s in the firmament
Could use a star that isn’t painted on
The mural (Stay in School) that borders Taft
At Highland. I try to stay up on water.

A wonder there’s no curfew set; we all
Know what could happen when a group of black,
Swift-moving cumuli cuts up the moon:
A hundred stitches thread a needled sky.
The stuffing oozes at its seams. It seems
It’s warmer than September could be, storms,
Humidity, hail heading for the yellow lines,
The EPA’s harsh, generated light.
Big moon. Black moon. The car is on my breath.
It’s 1 am: night’s ended middle. News:
Duke Energy has called on crews from North
Carolina…Red Cross has shelters stocked.

It is the outage of 2008.

It is for sure an expletive construction.

It isn’t safe to be a girl outside
But if this evening escalates to less,
I may just purge my uvula. The air,
Stagnant then sinking, smokes with charcoal grills;
And, all it needs is salt, a wave to topple Big
Boy’s Frisch and Staggerlee’s. The dj’s kitsch…
True fact: a hurricane sans rain can’t make
A flood. The hypothetical, the blue
Midnight just like a person who’s a man
In silhouette, black pleonasm, big,
Black moon don’t melt the butter. What to keep

And what to pitch, the water soiled, town out
Of power? Police tape surrounds the Eden stump.
Across the street, a gold-base floor lamp, clothes,
TV with wood lie on the grass. Some things’
Descriptions serve as benedictions, worse
For words. The dj’s chants wear soft as Nerf.
He spins the record raw, its hand-scratched throat
Sput-sputtering. I swear to God the moon
Goes blue all over Voulez-vous coucher.
When Patti reaches for the hey, he begs
Us all for More. Ungh. Yeah. And another one.

Tomorrow’s earlier. A pinscher’s brown.
Another one. A basketball returns
To no good hands. Ike sneaks away as if
Embarrassed. There is no eviction note
Tacked on the door. It’s not a ghost town. It’s
The present absence of a nightmare’s clown.
How sly the evening and the morning are;
How sly the relatively up and down.

It is the evening and the morning. Now
The evening and the morning are the first.

Go ‘Head Girl, Go ‘Head Get Down

With that Vivaldian ferocity,
An end and then an end, the head-strung strings
Must be exhausted (There’s no timpani,
Just furies and Tisiphone in rings
Of dancing octaves.)
though they’ll go again,
Ten times at that. They open up and tow
Me right along, a strong beginning then
Concluding ends beginning, chords, and O
It’s not Vivaldi—someone else.
                                                  If Tell
Can have his overture, the Sugarplum
A song, Travolta stay alive, then swell
A score for me. No. Make it just a hum.

After the rhythms stop, inside a chant
Of breath, the echoes sound a whispered rant.


     Horace says
     this song of the chorus
     should not be interrupted
     and should not
     sing anything between acts
     that won’t advance the notion
     of the tragic plot.

A Houston man has Che Guevara’s hair
Inside a sandwich bag—a chargé d’affaires,
The Korda bob asunder, bob in lieu
Of man at auction, and the hair goes to…
Wall-mounted shelves, perhaps a breakfront. We
Do not suggest you get a bob. And be
Advised, no operatives are tailing you.
They need no evidence to holler, Clue!
You have no heat. Shut up. Here’s certitude:
There is no market for your hair. Conclude
The chase; surround yourself with photos of
A kitten; fantasize a turtledove.
Each evening dream of dolls that bear your high-
Step arch and dream of songs that edify
Your ass in sounds of Minneapolis
And red corvettes. Dream sui generis.
Wake up. Get up. You, stand up straight. Go past
The small black print and empty space, the last
Ecclesiastes’ page, and see where green
Hibiscus leaves’ profusely brilliantine-
Dried petals, from your funeral, will stand
For all the pretty China roses. Land
Assistance. Lose the chorus. Know our oft-
Consulted narrator is restless. Soft,
And ably-used, think anything can break.
Count 1993 as one mistake;
But, please, do not attempt to sell your hair.
The world does not belong to you, though there.
See spot. Now run. You won’t be missed. Just tuck
Your hair behind your ear and show some schmuck
Your face. Find love. Don’t think of movements, whole
Like motley flying of an oriole.
Remember how we started on a roll.
Ask God to bless each dear departed soul.

Master of Fine Arts

I’ll tell my grandchildren about the time—
A Sunday morning, slow and dimly lit
As if hungover, too. I tasted lime,
Corona, coffee; watched the delicate
Footsteps of writers all looking to sit
Way in the back: head ducked, a yawn, slight yelp.
If only they had known I’d whip the wit.
Alan Shapiro, once, asked me for help.

I was the chorus, acting Browning’s rhyme,
With all the lines in Agamemnon’s bit.
Shapiro/me? That’s Longinus’ sublime.
The crowd laughed, doubled-clutched, like they were slit
And slayed. We loved your reading, though, no, it
Was not my own. Brown nose, I am a whelp
To his sensei, option to requisite.
Alan Shapiro, once, asked me for help

And we should take it on the road: a hit—
Black girl, a Jew; keepin’ it real l’chaim;
We’d bear libations, Browning duo, shit
Hitting the fans at Breadloaf, ‘Chester, prime
8:15 spots to hawk the mic and spit.
I’m parasitic plankton to his kelp.
But O, that man is head to toe legit.
Alan Shapiro, once, asked me for help.

And we won’t stop, can’t stop; and we won’t quit
Bringing raw flavor to your ear; yes, s’welp
Our common God. Jesus. May have a fit.
Alan Shapiro, once, asked me for help.

Avatar Review is proudly powered by WordPress and the SubtleFlux theme.

Copyright © Avatar Review