Main Street is crooked, runs right past
City Hall, the police station, empties
right in front of the University
All things tend southward here... the slopes,
the hollers, the crosses. Life has moved
out to the by-pass: movies, libraries,
The school is a warehouse
of long dead ideas, stored up
for future kindling.
Boxes of unread books provide warmth
and nourishment the nests of rats
and legions of insects pouring over
Outside, the street signs are picture perfect,
and the old buildings are either
scrubbed down or destroyed;
an expert destruction
of all evidence to the contrary
that once upon a time
there was something else here.
Bars converted to youth centers;
cigarette stores to ice cream stands.
The future is piling down upon us
barreling 80 miles an hour down
the new wider highway
past the mega store where
all hope is lost and sold
at discount rates.
But the banks,
at least, are solid
and are open for business. New restaurants,
same old food.
The movie theatre converted
into a mausoleum for ancient idealism.
Everything is fine. Everything is dandy.
Self help books sell well. No one reads
the classics anymore. Too many big words.
Too many big ideas.
Poetry is for little girls and for fags.
Rumi was a terrorist. Poe liked little girls.
Whitman needed a shave
and real job.
No one remembers the year the mountain burned.
No one remembers the year the north end of town flooded.
The people who carry the memories
have fled east, into the mountains
or west, into the desert –
searching for moonshine or for messiahs
that will give them answers
to nagging questions that have not
formed the words to articulate properly.