Nothing like a storm to blazon the wisdom of wintering trees that jettison their leaves.
Scrapping the glory of an emerald canopy lets them resist wind-lash less:
not much can snag on a skeletal twig. The lushly-attached gets its branches snapped.
They collude with loss to claim, as their choice from the catalog of griefs, one spring relieves.
Off into the Sunset
There I go, sauntering along as if I don’t notice this bright amber evening already auditioning for your memory, though naturally I do. You can tell I’m savoring how this magic-hour sunlight ignites tiny tiaras atop the upper edges of each sombre object I pass (car, stopsign, mailbox, car, wall), like a swarm of small dawns I’ll remember to describe for you later— meaning now— as a sizzlation, but not just yet. I’m still basking in the facets that gleam from bark and steel and brick, flecked with a luster that will linger just an instant longer, though now it’s arrested here. Sort of. Anyway, it looks like your mind— your lovely, captious, queasy mind—is content to cavort among these surfaces too, as if the world’s tide of misery has receded somewhere far beyond earshot, exposing this block’s homely treasures for us to admire with the just- barely-not-ironic gusto we share like a tic. It can’t last; it doesn’t. A sawtooth skyline steps in front of the sun, some streetlamps blip on, and the low-angled light that’d made even the East River look good for a moment, departs. As do I. You’ve plugged yourself back in, and by the time you surface from the cyan screenglow of your pent-up phone, there’s nothing left to forget but the moment I turned the corner into everything that happens next.
A Visit from the E-Muse
Wow. Looks like someone needs a hug. Lucky for you I’ve always gone for that undead-at-noon affect, that but-it’s-freezing sweat-glaze. Mimic my insomniac speech-gush all you like, but you’ll never match my scorched-earth aplomb. Let’s spare you a trip to the FAQs: I awe like a diva with my avatars, smack a few fanboys around for show before (lol) upvoting them. I’m as meta as a fractal node. Gauge my reach by counting up the screens I cloud with an ammoniac sheen of rage.
Want in, noob? Launch no threads that don’t exclude, then just keep subtracting till you belong nowhere else. If anything I post sounds like your cue to go full IRL, you’ve read too many poems I didn’t write. Asking what the memes mean tags you as far too basic to follow. Does anyone actually like what they like? You’re not doing this right unless you rig, for every mind you’re mining, a playpen in the slag.
That’s it: just keep scrolling through the troll-spew of comments to discover your life-score, somewhere south of loser. Don’t even, with the facepalm. Remember our deal: you binge on a one- quadrillionth wedge of bandwidth pie as if my jonesing for quick hits of clicks doesn’t matter, and I curate your uploads as if they do. Don’t I keep your browser barnacled in ads that contrive flattery from hoarding your trivia, like a stalker? You’re welcome. Remember what you said would happen, if you ever caught me livestreaming your bedroom again? Me neither. Now, refresh that feed.
Víti, a Volcanic Lake in Iceland
Charcoal uplands, barren and crumpled. Lunar distances, a serrated horizon, low murky skies. Rain this morning. Rain again soon.
A puddled uphill path, slimy with trodden ochre mud, skirting the pipes and outbuildings of a hydrothermal plant, sleek and toylike and alien against this jagged umber sea of scabbed-over lava.
At the top of the rise, more mud slickening the approach to the unfenced rim of a fissured escarpment. Down where the crater plunges like a puncture, our first glimpse of what we came for: a blown-glass pool, improbably blue, aglow like a sapphire ember, stoked by breaths from a sun slathers of cloud keep hidden.
We look and look, but discover nothing of that unlikely color for these waters to mirror.
And so, almost dissuaded from fancying ourselves as likewise bedded, jewel-bright, amid broken tracts of circumstance but not quite,
we turn away as one into the weather coming swiftly on.
James McKee enjoys failing in his dogged attempts to keep pace with the unrelenting cultural onslaught of late-imperial Gotham. His debut poetry collection, The Stargazers, was published in the otherwise uneventful spring of 2020, while his poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Burningword Literary Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Another Chicago Magazine, New Ohio Review, Grist, New World Writing, Illuminations, CutBank,Flyway, THINK, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere. He spends his free time, when not writing or reading, traveling less than he would like and brooding more than he can help.