Cottonwoods

he feels like a goddamn Republican
when he sees the young musicians on the
corner of Wood and Milwaukee
the ones done up with dreads and plugs,
that scream over-wrought
ironies (‘need new rims
for limousine’) in a manic
childishness—he wants them to understand
they are mannequins, he feels less bemused by the
performers at Jackson
or Monroe, underneath the hum of tires
and tourists with shopping bags, down
where their Blues covers buzz
like originals, unlike here
in the canyon, carving
a rugged swath through the city,
an enclosed oven, 90 degrees ricocheting
off the concrete and stucco like bullets

~    ~    ~

this is his city, it is every argument
he’s ever won, it is Spring and the cottonwoods
are undressing, the people on the train
saying yes through every window
—the ones that make schizophrenic self-portraits
from the jaunty reflections that bounce
people back to themselves like the heat—
as they peel back their leaves to reveal white tumors
that disperse like spores, catching the wind
and dissolving into the air,
a thousand giant dandelion seeds
settling upon the city like snow—they collect
in the tree plantings, paying homage to Winter
with thin drifts that shore up
the shallow, cement banks
he stops, and while others look into store
windows at shoes and dinner menus, he’s studying
the seed-like nuclei within its exoskeleton,
it piles up, fibrous building blocks that interlock
and together bend in the wind,
pulsing like warm wit yeast

~    ~    ~

he tries to explain to himself
why he loves how the seasons change, among and within
themselves, the way people change a little every time you see them,
he shifts his spoon
and knife to the other side of his plate
—he is a big-picture person and has
no problem taking photographs
with his eyes that last only a moment, but
filter back into his consciousness days or months
later, like those great evenings
that are subsumed into the deep reaches of memory
tectonic plates of an old daguerreotype—when he looks
out the window he is framing his life, the way
he uses music to score his walks,
drives, and sleep
does this make it a fiction, this coat he dons?
is it a phony connection he fosters? one
that will fade and be lost like cell-phone service
in recurring dips of a hilly drive… is it so unnatural
to control the stimuli of his environment—
people do it everyday, windows up
cell-phone off, news site open
on a separate tab, we mediate our lives
—input and export—to a degree, he thinks,
that has made nothing unnatural

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