A Year in the New Life

It was winter. The opposite of burning,
which is also burning.
My banner displayed clock parts,
a cup of wine, a worm eating its opposite head.
My motto was Try to Be Responsible,
but every new moon was a sacrificial moon.
Thirteen paving slabs were flipped into the river.

The extra light of spring threw our business
into relief. My banner displayed a sunburst,
a bloodied hand dropping a knife, and
in the other hand an avocado withholding
its stone. War would soon come but not
for us, and this became our motto, Not for Us.
Then a crime in our community led to anger.
Gossip gathered the truth into a ball;
paperwork was spoiled; a man was removed
from the yellow light of the barn.
We heard his sobs coming from the orchard,
and these were a source of comfort.

Summer roused lanterns of dust under doorways,
though a vinegar taste kept the air difficult.
Antifa angels bathed their eyes in milk,
as horses refused riders. The timid among us
signed petitions swearing that when the time came
we would know it by the rocks in our hands.
I made a banner for the protests to come
depicting the planting of milk teeth,
the burning of a noose, a stadium left empty.

Autumn was just my luck. I could not stomach
the broth I boiled, and slept badly.
Arguments I won in my head lost direction
when formed out loud. The riots continued
but quietly now, indoors.
It was a time for manifestos, though the wrongs
were too many for anything less than a lake.
Friends kept the counsel of friends.
In the yellow light of the barn we tried to write
sentences each other would like, or not desire
to alter. Together we designed a quilt depicting
the wolf taking scent, water moving quickly,
the sign of the errant cloud and alphabet,
a baby resisting sleep, a worm eating
its opposite head, only this time surrounded
by snow, which hasn’t stopped falling since
Thursday, the name we gave to our child.

More Poems by Jack Underwood