By | 1 February 2020

Standing in line in the supermarket,
watching the conveyor belt’s black current
snailed with stains, blotched with starry aftermaths,

watching the way it carries off objects,
lumps like limbs, plastic packets like armour,
boxes and tins fortified like cities,

this one from Ōsaka, that one from Seoul,
another somewhere on the sun-zapped, spray-
peppered, crumbling American west coast,

as the waves go, I think of three items:
one, how kings once had to go to sack cities,
and now those distant lands come crawling to me;

two, how long it has been since I was close
to a river at night, the slick run of soot
veined with city lights, if anyone ever

gets close to what a river is at night,
a whiskered black dragon of molten granite
twisting and shoving and glistening its lack;

and three, I guess, would be the synthesis,
I mean, what the approximate cost is
of the murky work needed to bring in all these spoils

through the air-streams and roads, river-grids, oceans,
as intimate now as the tracks of the blood,
how is it possible to filter that out,

to think the impact as distant as origin,
as if the dyeing filth filling a river
were ferried away like rats in the night,

and every figure impatiently waiting
not just wiped out by the next in line
in a line, not a latent cycle.

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