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Friday, December 13, 2019


by Charlotte Innes

The city’s all a-wash with rain,
wish-wash the water goes,
down gutters, litter-clogged, down drains
and pipes—and, there they blow,
the coffee lids, a sock, a cane,
some cartons, butts, a picture frame
bobbing atop the flow.

Post-drought, the rain’s a candy store
(including crap), the drub
of drops on my umbrella or
green shoots of grass that mob
an arid patch or crack. But water’s
driven baby seals ashore
(the warming-ocean “blob”),

and heat and rain together rob
our coastal townships more
and more, as seaside cliff-tops drop
away. Some call it “war,”
as if some ancient pagan god
like Zeus, enraged by hubris, were lobbing
bolts of shock and awe,

to lift the ocean up nine feet,
(the forecast), flood our Basin,
disappear our beaches, shear
the edges off our nation.
Predictive climate maps delete
whole countries, tracking Earth’s defeat,
shutting down salvation.

But gentle rain tonight prolongs
my day, and keeps at bay
the Marshall Islands, Venice, their long
drowning—despair at how to stay
alert to horror, play and song,
to rain and grass, to wrongs and wrong,
to more than I can say.

Charlotte Innes is the author of Descanso Drive (Kelsay Books, 2017), a first book of poems, and two chapbooks, Licking the Serpent (2011) and Reading Ruskin in Los Angeles (2009), both with Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, Tampa Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Rattle. She has written on literary topics for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation and other publications.