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Escape Architecture

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They sang Green, Green Grass of Home
sailing west from New Orleans.
They sang Ne Me Quitte Pas beneath mesquite

while digging graves in Matagorda.
Pelican soup was a vile, greasy potage.
They sang Green, Green Grass of  Home

where alligator was a luxury (the meat)
down at the Turtle Bayou Turnaround.
They sang Ne Me Quitte Pas beneath mesquite.

Near the Old and Lost River they surmised
Spanish moss strains coffee pretty good.
They sang Green, Green Grass of Home.

They were whingeing Stuck in Lodi,
forty Slavonians in the Big Thicket.
They sang Ne Me Quitte Pas beneath mesquite.

They cut down the trees, they sawed the blocks,
split the blocks into billets, split the billets into boards.
They sang Green, Green Grass of Home.
They sang Ne Me Quitte Pas beneath mesquite.




Frederick Olmsted was right when he wrote
G.T.T. (Gone to Texas) was appended
“to every man’s name who had disappeared

before the discovery of some rascality.”
Brands were a language: Shanghai M, Running W.
Frederick Olmsted was right when he wrote,

or rode upright, through “a sort of Brobdingnag grass.”
Bradded L, Walking R, Swinging   J.
Every man’s name who had disappeared

singed like needles off a cactus, whiskers off rope
(this was a practice). Rocking T, Tumbling K —
Frederick Olmsted was right when he wrote

in the alphabet we got from the Canaanites.
Oxhead A. Camel G. If it doesn’t brand, it bites.
To every man’s name who had disappeared,

someone added: Sent to heaven to hunt for a harp.
Or maybe it was another case of slow.
Olmsted slowed so he could write while he rode
among men whose names had disappeared.
Source: Poetry (December 2013)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

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Escape Architecture

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