Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Overheard at the Counter: A Poem about the Death of the Colorado River

Verble comes out of the office where he should have been working on the bills, but actually was arguing with gunrunners about fast and furious, but along the way one of his Twitter friends had urged him to write his own poem about a news article he'd heard on the radio the other day.

So, Verble slaps the piece of paper down on the counter and here is what he was furious scribbled out.

from 366.


The River Banks are Full of Ghosts

I heard on the news today that you were dying, some

sort of slow, ridiculous death, the type

of death in which you slowly wither away, like cancer,

but the outline that you leave shows where you

once were, when you were strong,


and there are marshlands still, maybe some 10,000 acres

left, when once there was a million or more,

all along the delta that was created when you

laughingly collapsed into the sea.

You leave behind the canyon, that you carved with

your patient hands, working slowly, slowly cleaving

through the millennia upon millennia of multicolored

strata, burrowing yourself deep deep into the earth,

where you could lie coolly in the basin, never

touched by the sun except at midday.

The scientist on the radio today who was

talking about your death, she said that she had

to borrow allergy medicine from her guides while

hiking along your canyon banks, because there is different flora

growing there now, shrubs that never grew before,

because the great floods that you depended on each year

to rip away the callouses of unneeded dirt, those

annual purges don’t come any more, thanks to the

dam, somewhere upriver, somewhere out of sight,

that churns daily to light up Vegas

and parts of southern California.

The other man who was talking about your death, he

read a book about you when he was a child, written only

100 years ago, a book that talked about your

virility, your strength, your verdant hair and your golden sinews and the

clear blue, blue blood that gave life, life to birds, life to plants,

life to animals, and this man, he tried to follow the path of that

book in a canoe, and he turned a corner and you stopped.  

Just stopped.

You are now nothing more than the foam at the top of a frappucino.

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