James Everett

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.

 

Miracle Pine

—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

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.

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