Riding all night, the bus half empty, toward the interior,
among refineries, trellised and turreted illusory cities,
the crass, the indispensable wastefulness of oil rigs
offshore, of homunculi swigging at the gut of a continent:
the trailers, the semis, the vans, the bumper stickers,
slogans in day- glo invoking the name of Jesus, who knows
what it means: the air waves, the brand name, the backyard
Barbie- doll barbecue, graffiti in video, the burblings,
the dirges: heart like a rock, I said Kathy Im lost,
the scheme is a mess, weve left Oklahoma, its cattle,
sere groves of pecan trees interspersing the horizonless
belch and glare, the alluvium of the auto junkyards,
were in Kansas now, weve turned off the freeway,
were meandering, as again night falls, among farmsteads,
the little towns with the name of a girl on the watertower,
the bandstand in the park at the center, the churches
alight from within, perpendicular banalities of glass
candy- streaked purple- green- yellow (who is this Jesus?),
the strangeness of all there is, whatever it is, growing
stranger, weve come to a rest stop, the name of the girl
on the watertower is Iola: no video, no vending machines,
but Wonder Bread sandwiches, a pie: Its boysenberry,
I just baked it today, the woman behind the counter
believably says, the innards a purply glue, and I eat it
with something akin to reverence: free refills from
the Silex on the hot plate, then back to our seats,
the loud suction of air brakes like a thing alive, and
the voices, the sleeping assembly raised, as by an agency
out of the mystery of the interior, to a community
and through some duct in the rock I feel my heart go out,
out here in the middle of nowhere (the scheme is a mess)
to the waste, to the not knowing who or why, and am happy.
times square water music
By way of a leak
in the brickwork
beside a stairway
in the Times Square
between the IR
and the BM T, weeks
of sneaking seepage
had smuggled in,
of standing water.
To ward off the herd
we tend to turn into,
turned loose on
the tiered terrain
of the Times Square
had tried, with
a half- hearted
barricade or tether
to cordon off
as though anyone
could tie up seepage
into a package
down which the
water, a dripping
escapee, was surreptitiously
with the intent,
in time, at an
to make a lake.
Having gone round
the pond thus far
for the third, infrainfernal
of the underground,
where the N, RR,
and QB cars are
wont to travel,
in mid- descent I
stopped, abruptly waylaid
by a sound.
Alongside the ironrunged
a hurrying skein
of moisture had begun,
on its way down,
into the trickle
of a musical
Think of spleenwort,
think of water
pipits, of ouzels
the course of it
as the music
of it oozes
from the walls!
Think of it
cheep, the time
the tectonic inchings of it toward some general crackup! Think of it, think of water running, running, running till it falls!
Excerpted from Selected Poems by Amy Clampitt. Copyright © 2010 by Amy Clampitt. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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