In a neighborhood of old shade, maple seeds helix down,
winging onto windshields, mixing
with the berry-smeared shit of birds and clotting the gutters.
From this wide porch of the Middle West
one can hear supper plates clatter and the responsible hum
of leafblowers. It’s the dog-walking hour
when screen doors bang and the neighbor’s ex drives past,
bass strafing the place. He’s just trying
to get a look at his kid on the way to his railyard shift.
Amid the iteration of American four-squares
and airplane bungalows, the people of this town are coupled up
and hunkering down. Here the weathervane
has rusted east, pointing toward the statehouse, where books
first happened to young Langston Hughes,
and in Curry’s famous mural, sulphurous clouds muscle above
John Brown’s fierce Bible and rifle stance,
fire flagging at his back, blood and the dead under his boots.
When streetlamps judder on, it’s time to go in
to the placid tones of the local newscaster’s evening report
on the usual city council incivilities.
The radar forecasts what the wind chimes already know.
— Amy Fleury
2 thoughts on “105. Here in Topeka”
Amy Fleury nails down her poetic words like carpenters in a race with hurricane fury! Her imagery closes down tight and sticks historically to her subject with a painter’s pride of perception on “maple seeds helix down,” and “berry-smeared shit of birds and clotting
the gutters.” She sees far and wide, up and down, inward and outward of the anxiety-ridden dog’s trot before supper, leafblowers humming, and the small town’s-character peopled with occupants hunkered and cloistered to their lives as they feel them. Even Langston Hughes
and John Brown’s words are no more elevated and on target than Fleury’s. She lives deeply in circadian rhythm with the wind chimes before and of her times.
Thanks for the honorable journey, Amy Fleury!
This piece serves up a delightful slice of Americana, Midwest-style.