Walking Home in the Swelling Shadow of the Bomb

by Corey Oglesby

                      —I’m able to love
the abandoned amusement parks
in the dark, unhumming guts
of refrigerators lining this rezoned sidewalk

and the boutique olive oil stores and tea shops that,
let’s face it,
are already on their way.

I love the saliva
stalactites draping the inner jaws
of the daydreaming commuters
inching by me and up the exit ramps
and the great urban drain
they’ll circle home.

I love breaking down
the ambiance of this part of town
into its various elements—

the million post-coital yawns,
the woody, deep echoes of farts in lonely elevator cars
climbing the new stack of luxury condos
failing across the street

and the security guard there,
swinging his thousand keys—I love
(though he’ll never buzz me in)
how green his eyes are,
how they engulf me, make me feel
like a spider in a celebrity’s Christmas tree.

I’m crazy about this city—

the thin shadows between the teeth of its strangers
who’ve taken my order/whose order I’ve taken,
the blur of commerce intoxicating.

I love having my hair cut
in a new lover’s kitchen.

I love the brainburn
stink of a particular gas station
restroom downtown
where the fluorescent flicker in a cracked mirror
once amplified the hissing rat I’d forgotten
was crawling the cage in my chest.

I love mirrors, suddenly—especially
this storefront window,
how its warp tightens my midsection

and the guy typing on the other side
thinks I’m smiling at him.

I love the soapstone sky,
its refusal to be pretty.

And speaking of pretty,
I’m going to turn here
down C Street to check in on Miranda,
my homeless friend
who, each morning, turns
a found candy bar wrapper inside out,
tucks its silver into her hair,
and asks me:

Do you like my jewelry?

I love your jewelry, Miranda.

And I love the community horoscope
new graffiti suggests,
penned nightly by the kids
living beneath the overpass—

their lives a kind of overpass,
where some god too ashamed to show its face
adds pain to pain
until the stack seems to slow dance
with its own weight.

Every potholed street named after a senator—

every dead shadfly darkening
the plastic cover on a streetlight—

the moon hanging shy in the smog
like an early guest contemplating knocking—

here in the swelling shadow of the bomb,
I’m able to love all of it.

Come on in, moon,
you barren wallflower

and explain to me the story hidden in this wet ring
on the pavement in front of the 7-11
and the melting Coke Slurpee
that must’ve left it there. Don’t you, too, love

whatever interruptions cause us to set down
what we desire for a moment, and talk?
And I want to talk

to every coal mine canary ghost—to think
the dark world beneath so much of America
could be haunted
by the songs of birds! And I want to ask

about the impossible, boneless system
of the leopard slug I just stepped on—

how its entire body seems an ornate battery
with some single, secret mission.
I want to

map the solar system
of sweaty pocket change
the bartender slid away from the drunk at the end
of the bar I just ducked into

and the wet air beneath the glass
as it slapped the counter.

If I had a bit more time, I could
learn to love feeling
as shapeless and bored as the nebula of pipe calcium
in this ice cube. I could even learn

to love the strange odor
creeping from my neighbor’s crockpot,

how it grows stronger
and stronger throughout the day,
looping like feedback. But for now,

I’m content with the click
of my key in the door,

and when I can afford it,
the concept of rent.