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Peter Ramos

 

New Frontier

 

                        —for John and Emily Gore

 

I.

Lemon furniture wax in aerosol cans.

Three pink sponges wrapped in plastic.

Cylindrical canisters of Borax.

Cracked bar of mint-colored Lava.

Gallon of floor cleaner, fluorescent green.

Plastic yellow sponge-mop with brittle pad.

Plastic orange bucket.

Laundry basket made of white plastic strips, woven,

            embroidered with dyed rubber daises.

Blue Tupperware bowl full of pennies

            turning green in this dark

            basement forty years.

 

II.

It’s white, of course, in three pieces

with iridescent needles and white wire over which run

electric cords and clear plastic bulbs—white lights

on a stark tree that glitters like salt or quartz dust.  The top’s a golden

plastic star.  Beside it, large boxes

marked Christmas lie stacked, old fashioned

candy canes and ribbon candy soften to gum

in plastic packaging.  Colored stars and globes

of blown glass, bubble-lights neatly packed

in their flat paper trays, tinsel, whole yards of gold

and silver Mylar from Rexall’s or Rite Aid, the angels,

three kings, Joseph, Mary and plastic

baby Jesus in the manger.  Bless them

who offered such little warmth.  Forgive them

their cruel convictions, their impoverished understanding

of difference.  Their pettiness, of which you are certainly

a part, goes back generations: middle class and thrifty.

Obedient.  Afraid.

 

III.

And yet, here is their furniture you love

as well—clean lines, horizontal and low,

arm chairs and sofas, the long credenza, its short thin legs

aslant, minimalist coffee tables, blob- and kidney-shaped,

porcelain ashtrays like giant amoeba, ruddy, square

Japanese lamps, all the straight and future-bound arrows,

five spotlights on a lamp-pole—connecting to floor

and ceiling—each, in its own direction, would throw

bold cones of post-war light.

                                                All this

for them was only a mode, functional, and then

put away down here to crack in the gathering dust,

anachronous, modern, inscrutable as an ideogram.  Dead,

let them be more

than this.  And less.     

 

 

Song

 

 

Undone at last      broken

& blown-out   the acres, whole blocks

of blank department stores     retail spaces

abandoned       the wide floor-room carpets

rotting through    stale    dandelions coming up

through broken glass   & parkinglots

cracked by afternoons—Ha!   Suburbia

            what else to do but welcome

your old whore’s face      your new

mid-century ghettos    worn so

finally down    and who dares

call you snotty now?

 

your dirty lawns awaiting      

the masses     (they’re here!)

and bargain supermarkets      less furtive

daily more assertive    X-rated bookstores

peep-show rentals     and cut-rate low-rent liquors! You                  

whom I know     was born into

and never left      letting yourself go

the cold war over      your children moving away

downtown       leaving you finally

gone back to hell.           

 

Still

right now

 

a delicate green rain descends 

gently over Goodyear,

            Baskin-Robbins and all the pillbox-

 buildings and shops down the boulevard

            confusing with spring-

blooms and tarred pavement the sap

in my upstart provincial heart.

 

 

 

American Pastorals

 

 

Twilight: in a pink top

and cream terrycloth shorts,

the neighbors’ little girl leans back

against a flagpole, in the center

of a lawn cut neatly

into green diamonds.

 

Ninety-three degrees

without wind.  In a moment

she’ll step out

to feel the darkness

barefoot.

 

*   *   *

 

The neighborhood boys, grown men

with wives and children, sprawl out

in busted lawn chairs, loud—

a stack of empties glinting

in the sunset—with hatred

for work, the economy,

for liberal and Jew.  The black kid,

just fifteen, watches

warily across the street.

 

It’s the fourth of July.

The suburbs have gone

finally to Hell.

The boys, piss-drunk

and full of meat, have known it

all along.  Now they’re still

and quiet, waiting impatiently

for explosions. 

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