Apologia, America

Apologia, America 1920 1440 Todd Smith

Listen: it’s raining ash.

The one holding his nose

tight in blueish kleenex

is your dead neighbor’s

only certified son,


heir to eleven thumbs

and a language made of

grunts. He’s born again

again, after six months

spent in some uterus


they say he built with three-

penny nails and schnapps.

Now on hands and knees

in the scant ash-choked

front yard – unmowed


since God knows when –

he’s a new devotee,

praying for house keys

or the raised spots

where he’s buried


his late father’s remains.

It could be worse is

what you almost say, not

that he’d understand

or even hear a word


with all the ash-plows

scraping East Yakima,

and the sirens his father

rigged with ninety-pound

fishing line to the Odd


Fellows flagpole for just

such an occasion. What

you do say (after you’ve

rounded up the children)

is listen: it’s raining ash.

Header photograph © Heather Wharram.

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