Saturday Nov 18

RandallHorton Randall Horton is the author of The Definition of Place and the Lingua Franca of Ninth Street, both from Main Street Rag. Randall is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award and most recently, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. His creative and critical work has appeared in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, and The Packingtown Review. Randall is a Cave Canem Fellow, a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a member of The Symphony: The House that Etheridge Built. He has the MFA in Poetry from Chicago State University and the PhD in Creative Writing from SUNY Albany. Randall is Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Haven.
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Demarcations in Birmingham
 

not as in a city. looped by train track
of iron & not rabbit ears peaking up
 
inside the top hat center stage three card
monte. an imaginary heart broken eons
 
before the link between real & unreal,
to believe shadows can (re)exist under
 
so much weight but people have known
less. the wooden nickel behind the lobe,
 
52 playing cards only one can be pulled
miraculously in & of itself, the metaphor
 
to bask oftentime brilliant, as if by magic
a collective resistant & we should resist
 
the loop a cycle to locate trauma inside
laughter amazingly. digital lights light
 
arties within the city much rural darkness
just outside edges secreted is the secret.
­­­
directly parallel to winding railroad track
just at & on the other side, synthetic blues.
 
gray shotgun shacks reside at the border
& further back perhaps the back of a bus
 
people had to deal with a lineage of race
at the cross. before the rail guard laid down
 
there was always a sense of r:e:d a:l:e:r:t.
safety in volatile numbers were abundant
 
or skin became comfort became a pride:
we not wild animals someone screamed,
 
on the six o’clock news a troubling nation.
idle days the rainbow stretches too wide
 
against intricate wind before the tornado.
listening at the intersection of vernacular,
 
between two office buildings downtown,
north of the lone greyhound bus station,
 
aging department stores laces one skyline.
the other unraveling complicated allegory
 
to understand anger tuned critical, lost
in translation, chaotic memories of hate.
 
 
 

Down by the Water She
 

unlike venice this is not a water city, aesthetic
lakes accent woodlands too distant to color.
the skyline opens gray, dragonflies break
fast over the water’s surface. one solemn face
looking back into a woman’s reflection. sometimes
bodies transparent themselves. the woman
graven but more by gravity’s dead weight. down
& through ravines a lone raven sings. graffiti
scribbled on the moving train out of focus,
the woman blinks twice to see herself clearer
by the prosthetic arm attached below elbow.
her hand grazes over an outline to brush away
wind blowing hair into sight, irises burned
by the sun; it was hung in the sky before noon.
she could not google nor question by internet,
erratic discovery should be left to imagination.
 
 

Downtown


pulling into the train depot after dark
the windows darkened more by opaque
filled with afterglow. absent fireflies
clearly: the grotesque could not be seen.
what awaited, by chance, a honeysuckle wind
looping as i exited i realized i had not.
only the return
is guaranteed home.
a string of lamplights elucidate downtown
’s supernatural: a child billy clubbed, a sheppard,
streaming water; it all be one blue haze.
in order to forget i have to remember
the hollowed out vibration of dynamite.
then too the confused humming-
birds lift, like a helicopter, straight up
at midnight. both of us confused in the crosswind
’s promises of violent. my finger pressed
to the curve of a trigger inside a pea coat.
 
 


 
Listen to the Echo


the white whipcrack opening
of daybreak: here
 
is what we know predicated
on yesterday: forgettable
 
june bugs radiate green fluttering
nonsensical: chatter
 
constant the unknown
unspoken but loudly a pause: history
 
perhaps the elephant in the room
society constructs itself
 
complicated & stuck
on color: none
 
or no such thing exists for light
clearly pigmented: we shadow
 
ourselves singing in a conch shell
faint but an echo: orange
 
the sky will die soon faded