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Darcie Dennigan

Orienteering in the Land of the New Pirates

 

The New Pirates are men who, as infants,

told their moms Keep your milk and went and suckled gas pumps.

 

In towns of peril and experience, were the twelve-year olds

shrugging It’s an island all around and no water.

 

Coming home to dark houses to moms saying, Baby

they turned our lights off.

 

ConEd turned their lights off. And ConEd turned

their stove off, turned their heat off. And Citgo

sucked the gas from their car. Citgo sucked back the gas from the car as they drove.

 

It wasn’t that they weren’t tender, didn’t want to cry—

just, they saved up each yelp and lachrymal drop

till they could stick a finger in a socket and light up the house.

 

I am not the fountain of all pity.

We were all afraid to go near that neighborhood.

 

I thought, with gold caps on their teeth, they will smile and kill.

Yes, I thought, but they are sort of— beautiful.

 

Destiny for them is right now and right now and right now and the air with spit hovering in it.

 

Hiding in the town shadows, the air gagged

with electrical currents, the cars, the people on the street lagging—

even the moon lagging behind the tides—

they would come, the New Pirates, dark in the dark.

And the light they make and the light they take is gold.

 

That’s the romantic in me, yes, but if you could see the latest maps.

 

The world is all dark

except for the pulses of natural gas etched in purple

the white of fireflies and the golden coils that trace the movements of the New Pirates.

 

Plus the thin red light off one police car chasing them down.

 

If you flipped the switch on that map

you would have seen the little boys, New Pirates-at-the-ready,

standing in line like for a carnival ride

 

because isn’t adventure always better than stagnant water?

 

—I say this standing waist deep in a swamp.

 

Sure the sludge this time of year is golden.

It is a swamp of ancient leaves, logs from ancient forests.

It is a few calendars until a seam of coal.

 

The golden sludge I think is a collection of sunlight.

It only wants to be stirred.

 

A crew of men from the inner city are robbing ships of the rich on the high rivers,

the highrises, the Hoover Dam.

Their treasure is energy, their loyalty to— living?

 

It sounds stupid.

We were afraid to even go near that neighborhood.

 

Still, if I had a son, I might want him

to make a New Pirate of himself. He’d be exhausted, always too thin, but that’s an honest

 

heartbreak. I wouldn’t want my boy to think the world is kind.

Wouldn’t want him to think his games have no dark side.

 

Me the supermarket braggart—

My boy was the first to mechanize his fist. My boy rides a windmill when he needs impetus.

blah blah blah, he surfs on oil slicks.

My boy says energy is the only life.

 

I imagine this waistdeep in a swamp.

 

Or am I the swamp, wanting only to be stirred?

 

And who is the man on the map, in the dark, eating out the heart of the swamp?

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