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In the Chemical Dawn

Janet Phelan: Outside my window a few leaves flutter like the distressed hands of an old woman the bark on the trees has been scraped clean and one last outraged rosemary bush topples into a dessicated heap.

The first cloud of gaseous terra re-formation
settles into the earth
and the parapets peel away from
the government buildings
and fly screeching towards the ochre distillation of sun
and a vague dream subsides back
into the pool of best- forgotten dreams

Chemical Dawn

and I rise
against my better judgment
and the protest of my dying cells
I rise to face the spectre
of the chemical dawn

Outside my window
a few leaves flutter like the distressed hands
of an old woman
the bark on the trees has been scraped clean
and one last outraged rosemary bush
topples into a dessicated heap

something was hungry during the night

I step outside
breathe in the breath of it
smell the sweat of it

it is in the air
in the blood
the rivers and streams
in the bark and branches
bones of my planet
bones of my flesh

I once fought it with words
as if words could subdue this towering, toxic behemoth
I have no other weapons
my dreams were gutted
at the same time that the turrets and parapets and gargoyles
came alive

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no more sorcery left in that flaccid, despoiled wellspring

I saw the first one years ago
the beast rising on ghastly wings
from the central cathedral

it was heresy back then
to say what you knew

now
it is only a brief synecdoche
that holds us in its warrantless spell
as the sky stoops
to fold us in

and the light breaks around us
in the chemical dawn
it slivers and shatters
like shards of burnt petroleum
gases rise from my footsteps as I
step out into what passes for day

and a crazed hope for human redemption
rises as a cry from my blackened and withered lungs
as I realize I can still breathe

I can still breathe

Janet Phelan