Two Poems by Lauren Camp

While They Make Money on the Far Side of Home

I must apologize for the country. The economy
is a ribbon of upward lines that emerge
from our leader’s wide lies, the irritating impulse to crowd-please and his tweets
of our losses. Forgive me averting my eyes
from the sea of abundance. My love and I repeat our keen worry
as the nation’s most shallow
aspire to assets. Coyotes make a grist of geography. We know every name
in the Senate. We have to be careful
with our anger. All week it’s rained slightly. We go back and forth in the ditches
of news, entrusting bylines. My love is melancholy. We debate
the collusion over oatmeal from the crockpot. We agree—
we cannot let the stranger remain in his chosen castle
while millions of us tread from paycheck to paycheck. The day goes on
scratching its actions. At night, so many watch their crime
shows and sitcoms by tables with half-empty
cartons, maybe some bourbon. My love and I are raw
from wincing at what’s on our screens. I take his warm hand
and draw past cactus thorns to the fluttering
multiverse, to the stars that arrange and claim sky: Orion in angles,
or Pegasus bending and squaring. These are our signs
of success, the banks of bright light
in the heavens. The wind turns tight and we twitch
in the mounting motion. There are men who believe
they are planets. There are so many rodents. I am tired. More tired
of metaphors. Inside, my love reads me each line
of our nation’s strange new erasures. Then we clean up our mess
from the day’s endless rapping, and pull back the sheets
on our bed. He quickly drifts off, his body softened
to its continual humility. I lie faithful to every
extremity, my left ankle preaching its shifts, my hips
with their laboring language. Night is a hole that belongs to us;
each morning is worked from its bones. We’ll rise
to the next tyranny of history, land use, whatever has rotated. Hour by hour,
we’ll lean in for clarification of what they block,
what they order and betray. Would we fit better somewhere else? I dislike places
that begin with weather. Here in the desert, I’m okay
with minimal prickly dangers. Here, there are unscented buds
and smaller denominations of color. I can see
the future a mile away. Anywhere I look, a strip of storm,
realigning. There’s enough to sustain me, and always
the weeding. I will sit at my desk, at the constant
thick shape of my inbox, delete and delete—
but just to be clear: I’m hardly coping. The next email says Baghdad
and the one after reads Protection.


Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo

I picked the cotton and I carried it to market …
under someone else’s whip

— James Baldwin


Don’t cry, Luisa, Sonia, Muhammad.
For the anthem of another night like dollars, each moment
has turned to selection. Another repeal, a third order.

There is wholehearted gluttony and we must keep washing our hearts.

Walls mean a different embrace—and you’re next.
We’re all next.
Then to ask how: there’s no conclusion to the end
of the sentence. Instead of breathing, we watch

more closely the howdy devastation and laugh.
They’ve become recently popular. If not crude
then flaring. In the calm of lost
signals: we were chatting

while they plundered. We somehow voted
for a treeless world, coal feast, money slutting urges
trimmed with extra gold.

They have gone round the general states
of deceptive maneuver. We slept through a couple of seconds:

wall, ban, distance, taxes.
All back and forth to pause

our more generous world
and already, new days slip off their coats: it’s fairly heated.

What we read can always be what we read
without knowing the kicksweep of what neighbors get in their news.
With one long drink of disaster

the stock wall is glittering: applause and devotees.                                                                                                         

We no longer write with question marks. Nothing but murmurs
and nooses and the rot-door of danger while the pristine
sun drags its parallel stories over junkyards. We’re breathless

into the fortified comment line, forced to reign in the slings
and arrows of our phone calls. Everything turns
to the carnivorous: gun, sin, banner.
And you’ve heard, I’m sure, the things we carry in utero
must go on
in their right and wrong places.

In brick houses there is no trembling. Inside the airport:
visa, tank, coat, gap
of movement. In fact, I’m saying
in the voice of rehearsing.

The goat-shame of anger you see curled around me is mine.


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