See the particles of confederation, ionic
bonds broken, static shackles cast off.
See them shimmy their shimmer-slick
two-steps, dancing on dense air
like kerosene fumes or paint thinner
alone in the bucket. The mercury clobbers
up the tube; shirtless boys in Baltimore
break open hydrants to dance in the rain.
I wade the redundant political climes
chiming from AM 1090: They’re burning
the city down. Just ‘cause? A city block self-
immolates. Just cause. Two Januarys back
I stared into a false fire place, gas-lit,
as though it were a mirror and I had
no shame or face. That night I heard three
gunshots reverberate down the back alley
between all the brutal, brutal buildings.
I locked the door and did not call a soul.
How did I know a man, younger than me,
lay facedown, the molecules of his last
breath breaking apart as so much vapor
held aloft? This is the way it all ends:
in slow diffusion, the last ember
winked shut, the polished ringing in the ear
after the siren has passed away
into distance, the road’s far-off chevron—
tar and asphalt’s diminishing point,
as in a charcoal sketch.
J. P. Grasser's poetry is forthcoming from AGNI, Linebreak, and The Adroit Journal. Tracy K. Smith recently selected his work for inclusion in the 2015 Best New Poets anthology. He currently lives in Salt Lake City, where he is a PhD candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah. Find him online at www.jpgrasser.com