I HEAR AMERICA RUSTING
All the fluorescent lights tonight
try to buff the dark to a shine
in the rec centers
and the laundromats and the beer glints
in the glasses, the cans. Sloshing
waves of amber. There’s a slow
sort of hunger as we watch the cars
grunt by, those gleaming dumb machines
are foreign and we want
to go home. The entire night
is chalked with the evidence of us.
We pass the crime scene
where workers mill around, faces
tight and shiny with tragedy.
Some start marching,
thrust their signs at nightsticks
as flagpoles corrode in their hands.
The bone whites
cell reds, the blues. Their eyes flint
into the wind that scratches off
our oxide smokestacks,
our scraped-out mountains, hollowed
wombs, our streets in Detroit
in Ferguson Youngstown
Baltimore Philly Cincinnati Gary
Dayton and Flint. The crumbling
here where it used to boom.
Paint flakes off the brittle
black factory doors.
—from Rattle #57, Summer 2017
Tribute to Rust Belt Poets
Kamal E. Kimball: “I’ve lived most of my life in the Rust Belt, and have always been struck by its contradictions. It’s America’s breadbasket, overflowing with wheat, corn, and soybeans in the summer. I grew up in Michigan, where we spent long, refreshing afternoons on the beaches of the state’s many lakes. Yet the Rust Belt is also scarred with burned-out factories and dotted with towns that opiates and meth have ravaged. There is a looming sense of frustration, an anger at the past and for the future. This tension permeates my writing, which is at once abundant with musicality and haunted by a sense of something missing.” (website)