I recently moved from Brooklyn to Fort Worth, and I like to think that both settings—and the landscape in between—play a major role in my writing. These days I teach writing at a college in Texas and am dutifully trying to finish both a novella and a poetry chapbook. You can read more about my work here: www.matthewrkoch.wordpress.com.
Outside the Temple Walls
New York, you scrape the sodden skies,
Dominion over night and day.
And when the heavens ask you why
New York, you scrape the sodden sky.
I beg you, please! Just tell a lie
To vagabonds who’ve lost their way
And scrape by under sodden skies
Unknowing if it’s night or day.
Where are you going?
And, more importantly
To whom are you going?
He asks, befuddled. The
Interstate runs both ways
And more pressing than
How to hitch up the
road is being able to
find your way back,
Ground chorizo sizzles on
Flat metal that glistens with
Crisco spray. Chopped
Chipotle peppers mingle with
Meat and moistened, diced
Red onions to form an acrid tickle
Through the nostrils and tear
Ducts, before the protein is lovingly
Lifted with silver tongs and inserted
Into a warm corn tortilla
No no no put that away
Have another. I told you this was
On me. You’ll need your strength
For the road. Remember,
I can only take you
As far as Waco. After
That you’re on your own,
Now, among the people of the valley
No, not “The Valley” but the other one
That rusts from disrepair and neglect
A decade, or four, since her children left
And now her mid-rise buildings are tombs
To honor the dearly departed saints of labor.
The glass, the steel—artifacts of the bronze age
Still seen around cracked and busted streets
But no more, creation lost and now the towns,
Depopulated, might as well be floundering on Mount Taygetos
And August light on Wheeling Island shines
Devastating brightness on the twisted face
Of a young mother pumping gas who howls
At the crying eyes of a child,
Swarmed by mosquitoes.
©2015 Matthew Koch