Each poem a death poem,
Spring blooms in reverse.
I can enter the world on my balcony
and tell you if it’s cold or not, and clearly
it won’t be raining anytime soon, so
those metrics mean little to me.
I want the kind of divination
only a true meteorologist can offer:
“High pressure extending south
into the mid-Atlantic states is resulting
in a dry airmass in place. The gusty,
Northwest winds, combined with
low fuel moisture, will aid fire spread
should ignition occur.” So, we’re
all under intense pressure and
at risk of spontaneous combustion?
Actually, I could have told you that, too.
How about this?
As this year’s spring brought out
lower-than-average signs of renewal and
a swell of both localized and regional
contagion which persisted
through the “healthy” months of summer,
widespread loss of life, aided by
a slow-moving front of misinformation,
continues to pose a daily threat.
Call your loved ones often.
Increases in public gathering and
in-person schooling may cause the plague
to restrengthen through year’s end.
Día de Muertos will be a national holiday
this year; the dead may stick around
to vote. Vote proudly alongside them.
Despite containment efforts,
chance of police gunfire remains elevated
among the Black population.
Prevention strategies proven ineffective,
general caution advised.
As awareness of both crises grows,
more pockets of denial will emerge
from the DC area, along with
outbreaks in unpredictable locales.
Also: smoke from the west coast
presents further uncertainty to forecasts.
If you are not yet on fire, you will be.
(Quoted words from Accuweather, 9.22.2020)
My first full year alone passed like a wisp
across the sun, so thin and quick it cast no shadow.
My own shadow has shrunken enough that
I get compliments on my looks and worry
I might disappear completely in a few years’ time.
I recede into work. I live in the office. That’s not hyperbole –
look up my address. I could pack up and leave in an hour.
But I’ve walked the streets of this town
thousands of miles now, I can claim it as my own.
I know it like you know your favorite song, and
it may be the first new piece of me.
The other pieces, I’m still gathering – spices in the kitchen,
recipes tweaked to my liking; little by little, my cautious return
to writing; my homemade computer, my microphone,
my soundboard, my Thursday afternoon time on the air –
just for me, but something I love enough about myself
to share with the world.
Gabriel Cleveland is a poet with an MFA from the Solstice Creative Writing Program and the Managing Editor of CavanKerry Press. Along with Joan Cusack Handler, he co-edited Places We Return To, a 20th Anniversary retrospective on the press’s publishing history. An avid video gamer and music lover, he hosts The Andover Special, a weekly internet radio program on HomeGrownRadioNJ. Gabriel is also a mental health advocate, often working online to raise awareness, visibility, and money for psychological and psychosocial issues. He has spent several years in the field of caregiving for people with increased physical and/or mental needs and wants you to know that you’re not alone.
You can find Gabriel on Facebook!