Chris Tonelli
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Walks are Useless. So are Poems.
after A.R. Ammons


A low-flapping crow unfolds its angular
legs at a nearby branch. A balding sycamore.
They commiserate: this is not our summer.
I don’t know whose summer this is, but it is not ours.

The Charles, probably still cold, slithers
of course. Actually goes to the ocean. It gives
its image and stands for what has been lost.
It has become fashionable like this, in doom,
to ponder what evil is coming towards us:
a thunderhead of pigeons. A front. A motorcade
transporting a killer, a corpse, or a president.
Nothing like a circus is coming to town. Nobody
like an actress. Sometimes I think we should
worry more about what evil we are losing. The
Charles—always out for a stroll. On the 4th, spider-
husks of smoke drifted with it towards the harbor.
No one was watching them. But evil has a way
of coming back disguised as good. Next season,
I’ll bet that Smoke returns as the new Light.
Blocks from the river, a graveyard. The trees so big
they seem famous. It is odd to be in this world,
so I think there must be another we belong.
On the wrought iron fence, a sign someone should hang
reads: Headstones Are Evolving. Will Creep From Yard.
Something to measure the extent of the disaster.




The common tern berates
the stoic cormorant on the pylon.
His screeches, like gun powder,

leak from his extended throat.
The bay is the bright sun beneath
them where the fisherman hasn’t

caught a thing. I drop back
and throw a long bomb
off my wife’s breast. I think

the fisherman feels, out of empathy
maybe, that I am being mean.
In my binoculars—a lighthouse

on the promontory, the tip
of the wispy peninsula, little tethered
dinghies against the vacant sky.

The sand is not warm, not cold.
It is littered with driftwood
and seaweed. Coarse shells.

The bungalow behind us
stirs. My friend who doesn’t know
I’m out of town calls; I don’t know how

to talk to him right now.
He says he can hear the tern.
In real life, I say, glancing

at the nearby bird in the binoculars,
he blows up. But in the cartoon
he blows up.
My friend says

he’ll talk to me when I get back.

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