The Neighbor’s Street Sirens Sing

(for Uvalde, et al.)

in the neighbors’ churches the culture has
a strict cante ostinado of mass

shootings untimed to get over kind
of repetitive grief as beat   vamp   line

of strung out hearses down   a street down
a got it run   up in   which being wound

into and around this getting even
going on       revenges over to death its keen.     

the culture always has it in the neighbors’—
not ours—   itself a kind of hood   that labors

not to any good   understanding      klan—
observance understood as separation   plan

of identity rather than facing
your own is my own   not mine to own   this.

grieving.     of which no dishing out can exist
when it is only one pool to be traced in.  

not just one in the calibration
but them all capable any one

of them—      full   emotion all who’re there
have as the pool grief has   brought here.

it is the water’s looking ink over itself
in hand   writing the called of its face from the cliff

it is    of the land. its water    of tears its culture
from here    such thing as next neighbor    is a future.

when we say   what goes ‘round    comes around—
this is it—      the autochthonous   future

found in the strung out hearse down we have   down.
rehearsed to continuity.     the faced sure

as shit      or called as face it all comes down to—
grief.        the body

develops in continuity after a while
the jar   the hit   the disturbances line up

their toppling losses   dissipated in as if
in the lilting distraction of the next

ongoing      they develop a rocking sway
the lilting sails    on the rolling triplet of swells

in an ocean of     music—     and a grand horizon
spills                 a windy vibration-less melody

of counterpoint   human instrument longs out
its yearning persistence of survival      the grand

balance of the dances on    the tossing decks
the elegant up and down   the dress designed

to drape the thrown shape a hand   around the breaking
hip   the hit   into that somnambulant silence after song.   

of death.      that all time most popular going on
going on with it      until something comes of it

its cante ostinado   vamp of the one string   hashished-
out caravan driver singing to— 
                    god itself of—    empty horizon.

Copyright © 2022 by Ed Roberson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 5, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.