04.05.2019
Weekly poem on Trump Presidency

 

AMY PICKWORTH

Valentine

On the radio Emmylou Harris
is twining her voice around Gram Parsons.
She’s trying to save him. When she sings that
love hurts she really does mean it. They don’t 

know how bad everything’s going to get.
Something about their doom’s reminding me
of a brother in Ohio—I call
him brother because he’s from my hometown,

so I’m sure we’re cousins. It’s suggested
it’s gun violence and not the border wall
that’s the national emergency and
—sure he’s the patriot and not the dupe—

he posts Please: Pelosi, Harris, Warren,
do come after our guns. We the People
won’t allow it and it will spell your end.
So yes
bring it, bitches. I’m reminded 

of the times my brothers have called me bitch.
Mostly metaphorical brothers, men
who grew up three miles away from me,
sang the same hymns, ate the same greasy chips  

and stared at the same tv shows, same wild
landscape humming outside. Shared history
says in June 1790, Gilbert
Devol hauled from the Muskingum River 

a ninety-six-pound pike, a Christlike fish
that fed the whole community for days.
You can’t be surprised there are still Devols
living in Muskingum County tonight: 

this is how Ohio works. Same river’s
still churning away, pewter fish slipping
under the bridge. Six months after one pike
fed them all, another man skated miles

up the river to warn off an attack
planned by the Wyandotte and Lenape.
Tonight in Ohio there are many
white and very few Lenape families 

watching tv and that’s terrible. And
I still love that place as much as any
wrong, stolen thing can be loved. Its starlings
and baby rabbits, plums and catalpas, 

its trailers and petty grudges and ghosts,
my real not metaphorical brother
who I’m sure has also called me a bitch.
I keep trying to wind my flinty words 

around the dustcloud of his loneliness.
I imagine our line of grandmothers,
a mise en abyme of women who knew
the same place and its swaying trees and men 

who sometimes would slap them quiet again.
In 1884 they lit the coal
cars on fire for spite and shoved them back
burning into the depths, baking the earth

so hot the water boiled in the wells.
No kidding: a hundred and thirty-five
years later and that mine’s still on fire
tonight. It’s February the 15th. 

The rivers’s running sixteen feet deep and
thirty miles south the ground still breathes smoke
as Emmylou trills Love is like a cloud,
it holds a lot of rain.

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Amy Pickworth's poems have appeared in The JournalNew Ohio Review, Smartish PaceTwo Serious Ladies, and other publications. Her book Bigfoot for Women was released by Orange Monkey in 2014. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island. www.amypickworth.com

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