Dieback

At Kelly’s, in the chokehold of August humidity,
we drink a pitcher of water before noticing–
like a brain of gum underneath a support–
a cigarette butt lodged at the bottom.
When we show our server, she shouts fucking
savages! This is why we can’t serve anything
outside. I tell my partner, if it makes you feel
better, it’s what we can’t see in the water
that will kill us. We get a free beer but, for
once, we’re aware of the toxin. It doesn’t matter,
though, being thirty-one with thirty-one years
to go. Twenty-fifty is when we will see
the clouds ignite. She says I want to say
we’ll be okay but I know there’s no way.
The Amazon’s in flames and hordes of
whales wash up on California’s plastic
shores. The water wars are coming from
actions of fascists and– the next day,
at the office, a narcissist colleague
sticks his dead cigarette into the soil of
one of our tomato plants on the balcony
outside the front door and he must think–
oh, as we find it cooling at sunset–
he thinks there will be no consequences.

(originally published in Quince Magazine, Fall 2020)

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