Bad Air

It doesn’t feel as good as it used to
to breathe in this country.  

I used to fill myself with good air
in the mountains now and then

and head for the ocean on other days
to draw in as much as I could.

I’m so busy running now from morning
to morning, through mourning and grief

and rage, that my memory of the air
comes only when I stop, briefly, short

of breath.  I chop out little gusts of the past
and take in sick gulps of the moment.

I’ve got friends who will say: the mountains
are still there, and they will cure this, and others

who say there’s an ocean and a sky above it
not far away and you can suckle all you want

of the atmosphere there and you will be healed;
but when I go to the mountains or the ocean

it’s one long drag, one long inflation
before I fall back wailing.  This is

no clean world anymore.
I cannot escape into 

amnesia, somehow. I feel every razor,
every bullet.  Every burning tree, every

cloud of coal smoke or flame from 
a funeral pyre. I choke on how close

and how far it’s all come to settle in me.
The world in my lungs like glass

shards in the agonized air;
joy, shredded, bubbling

as it strangles
on blood.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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