Poetry: “on fictional suburbs” by Evelyn Bauer

Some beast prowls in this place, lurking
around stacks of unused newspaper & hiding behind
the corners, shrouded by the broken electric streetlights,
still unfixed. The familiar stench of iodine wafts down streets
& up stairways, the tarmac melting in summer sun. Watch a newt
scurry & slink in the wet earth, a flash of fantastic red-orange flesh
darting between isinglass & moss. Not everything here is lost, but look:
betrothed birds fly in circles murmuring, pecking discarded crowns,
their shrill calls harrowing court magicians and too-rich merchants
alike. In this town, the lucky few enlist children in factories,
handing them felted caps and number two pencils, made
to walk the lines and clean machines until they are
caked in soot, watched over by some cruel (happy)
man, producing gallons of gorilla glue &
denatured alcohol—
worked to the bone

Welcome, you fatally fortuned, welcome, you unhappy fools, you
who have desisted from pleasure, you long-lived ones, filling the
leather-bound fortress of your body with vitamin fortitude, ascetic
intakes, sparce feasts. Your hundred years are over & look:
the empty river, once drenched, now runs dry.
Now what is there for you? You seekers
of immortality, take these visions from your bedframe
& learn.
Infinite futures (outliving) grandchildren,
but the view: washed olives, crumbling shale, and squirrels
littering beneath cumulus-formed treetops,
as the sun sets on countless states—
(balkanized) forever.

Gory antlers turn velvet against Autumn skies &
ochre earth, as these (unknown) beasts
scratch trees (vermin sent fleeing as
sap oozes from broken bark) in their eternal
deadly rut. & deeper in the forest, a hut, the smell of
clarified butter, the gentle perusal of
unknown herbs, someone tending to
waxy vermillion stews.
The room is full of rickety thatch
chairs, draped with a variety of colorful woolen
coats, the porch over-grown with all sorts of vines (or ivy),
like some festive altar to green growth. (Vastly)
different from the coastal cities, where,
just now, a massive warehouse sheds its disguise, walls fall outwards
to reveal an overt drydock, where a newly built cruiser rests, ready to
provide some missile comfort.

In back alleys, corrugated card-board softens in
early spring rain, children with dust-filled
lungs suckle on one hard candy or another,
wary eyes darting at anyone who passes by
their roadways, carefully sticking to the
safety of the canals. At a house in the suburbs,
a woman bites into a firm
pluot, watching the last icicle drip down
the gutter and onto the cold earth beside the
driveway. In the kitchen, the pot soaking in
warm soapy water produces an iron musk, which
wafts into the living room, staining the
satin upholstery with a smell like blood. Sidewalk
glitter is always crushed glass, trodden by thousands
of boots into crevices. Don’t be seduced by any apparent glamor,
the ones who live in this alcove are just like any of their neighbors.
Outside, a squirrel finds its last hidden acorn,
squashed under landscaping equipment.

A yellow balloon floats gently past the window, settling on
the roof of some veranda or another, peaking out
amongst the glassed frames, which shine ruby-red &
fervent against the setting sun. & in the expansive garden,
some fustian-like person wears (new)
corduroy, wandering over too-trimmed grass
& between carefully selected perennials, hoping to
avoid the over-wrought mania of knowledge
with careful seclusion, the tile-textured entrance
to the house is reflective, an uneasy glow lingering
on the muted green ground. The house shaped like a
museum, ledges meant to be dusted
by someone else’s elbow (tired),
no swings in the back, but it’s sure the children
still learn to gallop (futile).
& above, a solitary drone flies. Unhand us.

Evelyn Bauer is a Best of the Net nominated writer and (normal) bookseller living on stolen land in so-called “New England.” She is often found reading books, petting cats, and listening to experimental music. You can find some of her other work at evelynbauerpoet.com, and her poetry has been published in such mags as Stone of Madness, fifth wheel, Moist Poetry Journal, and Bullshit Lit. Peruse her Twitter at @neo_cubist.

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