Hymn for Plenty
I believe in keeping what I want,
in dropping everything,
the briny taste of the sunset
yolking the raw meat of the trees.
I believe in throwing the baby out,
the jimson weed rolled tight,
waiting for moonlight, for a smoke,
a lithe trellis to tendril the air.
I believe in leaving it all unfinished.
It cannot be a deity until we make it
a deity, so nobody say a thing
about the wicked wisteria this year.
Something empty is something else
full, faithless, sunflowers
no longer turning away from shadows
to the light at the fencerow’s edge.
—after the Tohoku Tsunami
It survived the mess,
suspended over the splintered houses,
a last green asterisk to the Wave,
but then died shortly after.
I hear the townspeople plunked
a concrete likeness down in its place.
By god we find our ways to bring things back,
telling ourselves it takes a disaster.
An industrious bunch, we waste no time
fitting our handles to our little thumbs.
We get to work.
We blast, maim, pierce, and gut
to resurrect what we think should always be.
We fricassee and freeze out.
Afraid, we hang, starve, segregate, assimilate.
We neoliberalize and racialize—
memorialize, legislate, whitewash,
waterboard, roast, infect.
But most of all, we just make hay.
In fact, a man right now out the window
in the cold March will not yet give up
jackhammers some sidewalk into oblivion,
dreaming of his old neighborhood.
James Everett has lived and taught English as a Lingua Franca for over fifteen years in the United States, Belize, rural Japan, and Malaysia as a Fulbright grant recipient. The people, languages, and landscapes of these places have led him to an inordinate love of international grocery stores, where Daniela, his daughter, Tania, his spouse, and he lose themselves for hours whenever their budget allows. Their kitchen smells of assorted fermented pastes, boiling daikon, patacones, tortillas from an old family recipe, Ecuadorian caldos, and popcorn they raise themselves in a community garden. Over coffee cups of pilsner and guayusa tea, they celebrate journals that have kindly published James’s work: the Evansville Review, Alimentum, Unsplendid, The Cortland Review, and many others.