April 1998 / Volume One / Issue Two
Vladimir Swirynsky
Fourth of July

Sitting on the porch-- I look at the puddles
of transmission fluid on the ground
Aware that God protects babies and drunks
To avoid me, you're in the kitchen on hands
and knees scrubbing
Each of us with unsteady hands of solitude

            I want someone to explain to me what art is
            What a poem is, to my satisfaction--
            Ignoring the Prime Directive--
            Thou shalt not write poetry
            The morning begs for me to notice, to study
            The dents in the curvature of doubt

It's the 4th of July
My daughter's birthday
Thousands of people headed for Roswell, New Mexico
The rover Sojourner Truth-- without a winter coat,
unexcited, ready to explore the angry red planet,
Doing what I had daydreamed as a boy

              I can't wait for the first colored photos
              My heartbeat dreaming of a galactic migration
              Poetry, a changing lover that rearranges
              furniture in a little apartment-- an unfamiliar
              rhythm, words without meaning

On the 4th of July,
twenty-seven years ago a storm killed
four people at Edgewater Park
I've stopped watching fireworks displays

For no apparent reason I think of my old
neighbor, when we landed on the moon,
he said, "I don't believe it, how can they
survive, there's no air to breathe"

I drive past Jacob's field
The Rock & Roll Museum, past the
port authority loaded with rusting steel coils
Tour the USS Fahrion that is docked
(soon to be sold to the Egyptian government)
On her bridge peer across lake Erie
I think, how fragile this world
How we leisurely avoid unraveling
the mysteries of self
Unwilling to stray into
uncharted waters
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