Pounding me like a jackhammer, shaking me
like a rattle, the construction company
digs in. Trucks haul in the creosoted logs, haul
out the dead trees, the ailanthus the birds

sang in, one small chickadee last summer. This
company is worse than bluejays—it's worse than
mosquitoes, flies, the moths that took some sustenance
from my favorite wool sweater, the wool pants I'd been

too proud of anyway, strutting from cafe to cafe
in them, flitting from bar to bar until I'd found you
& I'd sat in them next to you in the window watching
the young careerists. Now, not even a starling.

The crew means well. They connect with us squatters,
buy their energy from us as we once took ours
from the city, assure us they won't knock us down—
meanwhile the windows shake loose. the bricks drop dust.

I should own this land. Lost a nephew to it around the
corner, & begat two children on it. My brother came
here & took off like a rocket before I did, searched
out every vein in the neighborhood, knew every artery

like a palm. He died not too far from here, & like
the others—is buried out there somewhere. The few trees
left out there make a line thin as a curtain,
hardly enough by themselves to drown out the noise.

It's enough to silence the merengue, the bold gangsta'
rap, the troop of neighborhood boys and girls
that laughing, squirts water on each other from
their plastic guns on their way to the pool.

Only the men's voices rise above the machinery,
the pile-driving ones that sit in the Caterpillars,
that direct the long necks of the cranes
to lift the logs & drive them down into the bog,

to make room for concrete, reinforced with steel.
What politician can save me from this work-in-
progress, this inevitability that will happen as sure
as the trees went down. Next summer if I'm here

I won't see the sun, I'll be seeing reflections in
the glass windows. It's been a fact of life since Babylon,
to clear the peasants & the trees from the land to make
room for their hanging plants, their caged birds.

John Farris

[John Farris/words][Shalom/image]

Poem for Elian Gonzalez
Tribes: Neo Animal Crackers
John Farris in Hokum: Anthology of African-American Humor ed. Paul Beatty
John Farris reads at Nublu on You Tube
i am
new yorkers
shalom at aud art
exquisite corpse artist statement Shalom Neuman
Howl! Festival

© copyright Thin Ice Press 2007
© copyright John Farris 1999, 2007
© copyright Shalom 1999, 2007