HPN

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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 25

Camps

Suburbs right the lawn and bright the fence,
scrape offal off fine family china white,
send garbage off to land in China red,
flush fecund feces ripe down plumbers' pipes,
turn wooden homes to vinyl one by one.
And plastic plenty’s molded for one use
as toys, bags, bottles, pitchers, pens, plates, crates,
and six-pack rings that hold but don’t dissolve.
Toxicities of chemicals are sloughed
and gases’ poisons instantly set free
to find their own way as the legacy
of you, me, and the land of liberty.

Far off, myriad camps too soggy-new
for pipes and processes to have been laid
house crowds of ad hoc souls from lands less free.
Welters of makeshift rust-sheet shacks withstand
the elements, and hurry-hoisted tents
and cardboard lean-tos line the littered lanes
where desultory dreck has been so strewn
that noses tingle until red and sore.
These camps, though, will not matter any more
than distant glistening warrens, in due time.
For crowded concentrations—people piled
or thought-thick texts of prescient poetry,
in safe and spacious files or flowing free
and wild as chaos—thin out, fade and go.
And whether we are rich or refugee

shall credit no credential; at the gate
where souls get sent to heaven or to hell,
the temporal will be topsy-turv'd at last.

Meanwhile, as the inheritance of ice
succumbs to trends so lucrative and warm
that polar diamonds sink into the sea
and heighten waters irrevocably,
and fresh air funneled from the Amazon
is suffocated to oblivion,
two brand-new camps of humankind shall form:
those who’ll drown in excess of excrement,
and those who will from excess of excess.

James B. Nicola