Expo Creation Story

                  after Kay O’Rourke’s Creation of Expo ‘74

My job is to watch the dogs. Sky the color of dust. Once, it was fire. Note how the trestles collapse, splinter and spike. We haul it away, pretend it is gone, like dogs, like flames. Call me Burn and Crush. Dogs sprout like puddles, eager after rats fleeing the rubbled buildings. Men are working. You may think this is about the river (not pictured), but here, we pray for lumber, the proper proportion of Portland cement, gypsum, and rock. Call me Rumble and Pour. You see the way I stand, fists on hips, the goddamn dog, always eager after rats, dust-colored sky. Always men working. Tomorrow, I am rubble (not pictured). Tomorrow, I am the ghost of a depot long ago filled with rats. When it came down, the dogs barked for days.

Hard Wind, End of the Block

He begins with directionless cursing,
a desire to be left alone, unexamined.
He’ll do what he goddamn well wants
and you can’t fucking stop him.

Maybe you’re standing on your porch,
maybe pulling ripe tomatoes from the vine.
Maybe, when you were young, your parents
fought, often and loud. You don’t think
about it much anymore. But there are nights
you want to punch through walls,
to take your helplessness by the throat
and crush the life from it.

Right there is where he lives, on that verge.
A hard wind, and no shelter belt to break before.
His anger is a thick barrier around his yard.
After cursing is more cursing and then more.
Neighbors close doors, windows, curtains,
shake their heads, and you do, too.
You’ve been the small boy, alone in your bed,
listening to the words, the timbre and pitch of them,
the awful music they make. As the wind rises,
your legs shake and you remember learning
that language has power. What need for fists,
in the face of such force? What need for calm,
or peace, or anything but this, for the rest of your life? 

Thom Caraway has been using mostly the wrong words lately. When he wants to say “last,” he types “next.” He isn’t sure what this means, but hopefully his latent superpower for time-travel is finally developing.