When the windshield-splattered gnats are reborn
They’ll want to dismantle our automobiles
And tear up the roads and parking lots.
They’ll trip up the pedestrians and tip over the strollers.
They won’t even forgive the cyclists.
They’ll want to fly in our ears
And stitch together great clumps of wax.
If you listen, you can hear them plotting
Beneath the radio silence. If you listen
You can feel their looping flight patterns
Knotting the clouds to our pockets
So I sit in a dark room with my eyes closed
And I plead with the creature to go back inside
And I try to remember a song about a shadow
That swallowed the suburbs.
But even in the self-referential loop
The simplest connotations go haywire.
The woven grass tightens its hold.
No matter how hard you look, you won’t spot the gnats coming.
Instead you may see someone’s straw bonnet
Blowing off in the wind, and someone else’s bayonet
Stabbing through the curtains, while
Someone’s snow blower spews mud on the sidewalks
And the superhighways sprout skeletons
So someone unscrews the doorjamb
And someone pulls out a roll of bandages
And someone awkwardly mentions the president
Shouldn’t he be making a speech?
Shouldn’t he explain the new exit strategy,
How we’ll build a museum and hide in the diorama?
So someone paints his face on the brick wall.
Under the benevolent gaze
A father hands his briefcase to his baby.
The hummingbirds suck down the airwaves.
The impossible animal emerges.
The impossible animal emerges, but no poem
Will clean the cages or perfume their unholy odors.
Nathan Hoks’ books include Reveilles (Salt, 2010) and The Narrow Circle (Penguin, 2013), which Dean Young selected for the 2012 National Poetry Series. He currently teaches poetry writing as a lecturer at the University of Chicago, and Convulsive Editions, a micro-press that produces handmade editions of chapbooks and broadsides.