Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Zachary Schomburg—Issue 64, April 2017)

Timmy Straw
Ohio (A Loan Seen, A Lone Scene, the Pleistocene)

image of Ohio

I wanted to see you, the painter,

who I’ll never meet:

It’s like peering down

out of an airplane, trying to pick out the place

where you live —

It’s gone.

There are your brush strokes,

dry, leaping latches

that float from their doors,

drift from their locks —

No great wind, not a mild breeze either:

A house rich with its vacancy.

Conviction is provisional, too, and pain:

Little carriages and fishes,

little snipping crawdads,

can’t be caught,

and all you know is there, silent as the night continent. Say:

The door ajar,

that door is mine.

The painting is done

in the kitchen. It’s the Pleistocene.

Open the freezer,

there is birdsong,

a world inside —

the trees in bloom,

colonnades of trees,

a red cosmos all around. O it loves you, its maker —

But you live in Ohio,

in Canton.

Where Marilyn Manson was born:

I’ve seen his face.

Where ATMs come from, and voting machines,

and for a low wage

immigrants in plastic slickers slaughter chickens,

and there is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the underhush of

battlefields, and shuttered railyards, and animals

who knew themselves only in Algonquin;

Canton. Where,

in the high of industrial decline — which burns

the mind like amyl nitrate,

or whip–its, if that’s your thing

the city fell

to the service industry,

to the present-continuous

opera of nowhere;

To this world which,

once it’s woke,

turns all it touches

to the mildest cannonfodder — or, as Akhmatova said of the Greek gods,

turns people into things,

but keeps their consciousness alive.

You were born to all this. It’s your home, and mine.

Still: the green pocketknife

of your painting

that, restless,

you open and close —

it picks the green lock,

it bides the green time,

And in the cut grass

I see you walking —

hear you cleaning your brushes

down the hall…

As if I could say:

There you are

and there you’ll arrive.