John Calhoun’s Utopia in One Long Act


There was a time we passed
At some point, probably,
When you could still hear the breakers
At Monomoy

Now we have a perfect hive
A perfect hide
Among billions with a B
Made so narrow, the streets and our lives

They sell brown water now
But only until Noon
When we stand in slim shade
Shoulder to shoulder

Like those fishermen after Walleye
In three feet of brown greasy water
We shall catch them today before they
Are devoured by algae

I have never seen people
That don’t have boils,
Aren’t counting pimples and various infections
On a rosary with a pleasant click
“I’m fine!”
“Look at my rosy cheeks!”

Eight inches of asphalt has been worn through
By someone else and they stare at
Exposed cobblestones as if
An especially loathsome insect.
And they don’t shovel, and we don’t pick.

Overhead wires once shaded us from the Sun
But now it’s all microwaves and very low frequencies.
In a single day, hundreds of years ago, we all
Quit socializing and made ourselves into pupae
Translucent and dirty yellow.  You can’t see in.
We are changing into something you could not foresee.

Brittle branches all snapped at once and we drop onto
A foul stream that leads us, bobbing and helpless, somewhere we hate.

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