The Poem At Length 4/2007 (Burch)

election day at fourth & B by Kate Burch
Kate Burch • election day at forth & B 

     election day at fourth & B

     we, then, in an american discourse over pancakes:
     passed the syrup and the sugar over righteous formica,
     she dropped her fist on the table, the new york times jumped
     and shouted in bold capitals about the war.  we mimicked her
     romantically, all red hats and neoclassical paintings, and
     finished our coffee, tuned our turning footsteps to old war songs,
     shattered our own skulls with bass lines, broke our guitars,
     shook the underwear off the clotheslines that crisscrossed
     the jefferson apartments. old ladies leaned out the window and
     tied again their kerchiefs under their chins,  the bed sheets of families
     blew in the sundown light, the early autumn wind.  we were gripped

     and then eventually rerouted by the interminable shuffling of scattered hearts.
     i walked up the aisles of a supermarket, the fluorescent lights perpetrating fog
     and i thought about the duplicates, fourteen varieties of flour, an entire aisle of bread,
     stone-ground whole wheat organic white locally grown mass marketed
     and i stared at the poultry and thought about the snow outside:
     it is disparate, and it is pure, white, light, light
     we were stomped to pieces by picket lines, columns of people
            at bus stops, t-stops, cross-legged, scratching
            alive, awake, obvious
     we dropped to our knees in front of post offices, libraries,
     collapsed twice in jest and once for real.  we rode the subway
     to brooklyn and back three times, hours lost, trying to decipher
     our epically wrinkled palms.  then, a massacre, and we spilled
     the blood of books, sweating like stars, holding an axe over the endings

          the record player broke,
          the tapes stopped rewinding
          the door started squeaking
          the chimney now rattles
          the cats howl without ceasing
          and my car broke down
          three exits ago

     well, next november dawned, and the one after,
     and on wednesday we sit at the same table.
     the floor is still tiled, the bathroom still
     covered in sharpie-marker graffiti that degrades itself.
     riotous laughter continues to shake the chairs.  the legs
     quake with memories.  our neighbors turn to look, inhale
     deeply, do not laugh, did not crack.  pass the ketchup.
     i am still surrounded! by bodies devout and
     with both hands pressed tightly over their faces,
     peeking through their fingers at a cause as
     infallible as galaxies, and even more distant:
     and she ran in!  clapped both hands, executed
     a leprechaun jump- did you ever!- and promised
     a series of dinner parties would commence, in the name of congress.
     and everyone raised their glasses, raised their shovels,
     waited for snow, and all i realize is that i stopped swimming
     lakes and lakes ago, that i am certain they were not thinking
     about how the streets flooded because of the rain and wet leaves,
     that the water rendered the way home ruined, that in the end
     no one was a martyr of recyclables.  the telephone rings- pick up
     or delivery?- and everyone cheers, and i am waiting
     to cease to be an hour ahead of myself
c Kate Burch