at the edge of comfortable town
there is a sludge lagoon
that used to be a lake
you can tell because it looks like a lake
except for the dun color
and the fact that you can walk on it
and the trees that used to live
on its fringes are all dead
kind of like a war museum
you can go there and enjoy the silence
there’s nothing alive there to distract you
ripples and trees and birds and breath
but if you don’t mind that
it’s kind of nice kind of ice in fact
in winter it still looks just like a lake

at the edge of comfortable town
there is a mine that used to
fill the lagoon with its tailings
and the air with its smelting smog
that used to hang sulphuric on the edge
of the sky, giving the lake and the sour woods
a sort of cauldron-of-the-volcano pallor
such as Dante must have seen in his mind
when his spirit frequented the lower regions
of the Inferno. If you were to frequent
the mine’s lower regions, you would
find yourself under a sky that was made of
precambrian stone a mile thick
where a simple shrug of the earth —
demonstrates the zen of one huge hand clapping
When I worked down there for a short time,
I used to think about the people
on the surface far above me
living up there on the rock clouds
living their lives going to their work
and I would realize in an instant the absolute
a prisoner must feel when he knows
there is no access to the other side of the door.

At the edge of comfortable town
I sit right now waiting for the phone to ring,
waiting for the casual conversation
that will be broadcast on TV and look
so cool and yet be of me caught on a track
bound to a train that will not stop
until we have passed my destination
and I wonder why I came here.
And I wonder why I came here.
And I wonder why I came here.

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About riverwriter

Poet, playwright, duplicate bridge player, website designer, cottager, husband, father, grandfather, former athlete, carpenter, computer helper for my friends, theatre designer, backstage polymath, retired teacher of highschool English, drama, art, a baritone singer in a barbershop quartet, who knows what else? wordcurrents is on Facebook: Doug also has a Facebook page, "Incognitio", related to his novels.
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