Sunday, May 20, 2018


Lo Cool, 69 Degrees
(previously published in Kleft Jaw)

the yellowed air conditioner
in the window hums as
outside people drown
  in their own sweat and die
  in the streets of dirt and fire, in cities
far from here,
  in cities nearby, just down
the block

this air conditioner spent
seven years in an attic
before re-enlistment in a privileged
war against the sun

in the last seven years
I have watched four
people I love die
in front of my eyes
    and thousands on television from
    the endless stream of
    human catastrophe
and I feel myself joining the ranks
of the numb

the air conditioner hums
and it is getting too cool now
so I turn down the blower and
listen to cars passing
on Broadway and garbage
cans scraping pavement, one last
chore before bed for a random neighbor,
  as somewhere else someone
  turns out the bedside light
  to gunfire and war and famine
  to the sound of their
  own family starving to

we lament the brand of lipstick
our celebrities wear, or curse
actors and musicians for having beliefs,
and I turn down the air
conditioner’s blower even more
the little
digital green numbers reading Lo Cool, 69
   as the last drop of someone’s
   sand continues to strike the ground
   as they slave and die and are reborn to slave and die
   you, and you, and you out there in the darkness,
and soon for me too, no closer to answers
in the privileged cool of the night,
   for which I weep
consolation to anyone, I know

--James Duncan

No comments: