On the floor of a sea of smoke
crawling to an empty conch
I pass a woman out walking
her dog neither with a mask
and she smoking a cigarette.
And some bony lady jogging
thru the smoke and fog up
and down the local side
walks a serious jogger in
deed sans nuisance mask.
Toodeloo, I whistle in my
mask, in my car, windows
rolled, destooled, the bars
all closed, on my way to
the store for milk and beer.
Now a Worst World Air Award
for this smoke covered coast
an Atlantis sunk in smoke
a coal drenched London
an orange Tambora scarf.
The tall fall fires out west follow
the humongous hurricanes blowing
across the headline news, shooting
embers across the dance floor valley,
licking into the canyon columns
of textual innuendos of who
belongs here and who doesn’t.
The wind and rain and flickering
flames know no such distinctions.
All belong to the sky and forests,
to the ocean, mountains, and deserts,
to one another embracing bumper
to bumper against the noise unleashed
updating itself every second breath.
Some too old to dance seem left behind.
You can’t fight a hurricane like you can
a fire. The new news is the new normal,
seven by twenty-four and minute by
minute. Still, all we know of the missing
and the ones still on the road is that
they are missing and still on the road.
“Oh, God. Oh, Mother,” the Civil War
soldier cried as he burnt up. Why,
when a single bullet would have sufficed?
The trees are drying and the ground sinking.
Will all not sunk into the sea burn
into the sky? The caravans continue
heel to toe to higher and cooler ground.
And that’s the way it is.