A Southern Gothic Summer

by James Robert Rudolph


All that green.
Grass, leaf, vine, weed, stem,
coarse and common as black flies.
Underfoot, between the toes,
erupting, poking through cracks,
clogging the view,
curling around my neck,
thrusting down my throat.

Pushing unasked into
every open space
meant for repose.
There’s a squatter on the land, brother.
It flourishes, alarmingly,
suffocation by green —
I always thought it was supposed to make oxygen.

Spores bursting taut membranes
that could hold them
no longer, millions launched
to lodge in the lungs,
finding tissue clefts,
their own little Petrie dishes
in which to ovulate;
the warmth of infection
is felt within.

After a rain in August,
sodden layer on layer, like
matted, unclean hair.
In that swampy heat
you can just hear
the beginnings of breakdown:
leaf stuck to leaf
erotically rotting each other
to the trill of the cicada.

Where is the spare, weightless air
of the desert?
Just rock and sand and sky
and nothing more.
To hear
the sweet lowings
of the inert.

In the desert
no plotting cabal
of chlorophyll rubbing
obscenely against themselves
to crowd me out.

The promiscuity of green.
The hegemony of green.


Copyright © 2015 by James Robert Rudolph

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