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Friday, December 29, 2017


by Michael H. Brownstein

Part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as the 10-02 area, serves as the summer breeding ground for two hundred thousand caribou. Photograph by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty via The New Yorker, December 20, 2017

President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress, who opened their first year in full control of Washington on rocky terms, are closing it with a flush of late legislative achievements: a sweeping tax overhaul, a long-sought repeal of a pillar of the Affordable Care Act and a surprise deal to open up Arctic drilling—all signed into law Friday. —The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2017

Hold onto these works.
Let the laps come between us,
The field swamps of black blood leaking from metallic arteries.
Is nowhere safe?
Let these secrets divide us.
Snow fell last night.
In the great white house, the small man looks over his great expanse of green.
He does not know what he has sewn.
The wolves are leaving, coyotes join forces:
wild dogs, feral cats, the great grizzly, the large boar of the forest.
My dog is going blind.
I am covered with scabs of disconnection.
In the far north, whales lock behind cages of plastic.
In the west, fire storms and Gomorrah.
In the south the wrong pythons multiply into more pythons.
Is nowhere safe?
Was the cause of this man in the house on the hill to cause disharmony?
Did he think the snow covering the great oil spill pristine and fresh?
Did he think the snow covering the streets of my town clean linen white?
Did he believe the snow falling over the east blister free and safe?
The man looks out his window.
There is no snow where he is,
only a vast discord sinking into morass and danger.
The snow falls acid white chemically deranged from the sky,
and when it lands, muck and mire, gray, black with fresh blood.

Michael H. Brownstein was the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam, 2011.