Holly Virginia Clark
Affirmation for the American Pessimist
Thursday: a line
the Blue Note clots the sidewalk,
passersby amble along the curb,
traffic pulses inches from their toes.
razor around the corner
pausing on red.
the drivers, imagine all of us,
our faith in the reel editors
together each crucial frame,
how often does one end up
the cutting room floor?
often is it the top stadium stair
we’re falling backwards?
not just that we don’t die:
that we think we won’t
we’re right. We keep waking up
falling asleep again. We keep
the stairs to Death’s sprawling attic,
at the stacked boxes of rue and reparations
sort someday, then busting
through the roof hatch.
thing we know, we’re guzzling
on the roof of the house on Ravine Street.
hooting at the cracks
guns ricocheting around the dead-end
the river. We’re teetering barefoot
the gutter and peering downtown,
the skyline for hiccups of smoke
fires the looters started.
if someone was running,
in the shoulder, we didn’t know it,
someone stumbled to the front
the long line to heaven, we
braiding each others’ hair,
poems, getting married—
Death doing pratfalls
the laughter of our living.
Holly Virginia Clark earned her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in 2007.
Her poetry was most recently anthologized in Poem, Revised, a publication of Marion Street Press.