Wheat fields listen to broken violin strings,
old car parts, discarded
license plates spelling words
and counting out old phone numbers.
Tonight the moon looks like a baseball—
stitches worn off from two brothers
playing catch during summer blues festivals.
The cornerstones of an old house
where disobedient teenagers danced
on the decaying yellow verandah
form the goalposts of a soccer field
where two friends kissed after scoring
and the ball rolled into the river
where ripples looked like music notes
and stepping stones like rests
traversing silence in dirty rubber soles,
leaving imprints in the mud, wet
with the tears of herons and their prey.
A woman on the corner with her hat
on the ground in front of her, a few dollar bills
mixed in with old receipts.
She serenades a homeless man
on the opposite corner, her voice
sounding younger than the hour of the morning.
A car drives by and splashes into a puddle,
soaking her hair so it’s wet and curly
like in the rain, and the grey hairs
melt into silver.
The rain from the cloud
over the weatherman’s house stings
and he keeps checking the acidity levels
to see if he’s already been burned.
At the top of his news tower, above the clouds
the sun is rising, colors of gumdrop candy
but it’s not high enough, people still look
like people, not dolls.
Walk far enough down the road
and the heat will turn the asphalt to soup,
a mirage, a mirror, where you can dress up skyscrapers
in Victorian dresses and waistcoats.
Step forward, and everyone is naked again,
bodies gaunt with windows like tired eyes,
city blocks like giants fallen to their knees in prayer
in the religion of the dark skyline
and the movements of the clouds,
how they track footsteps through the early morning
like a torn map.
A vulture is feasting tonight,
its bald head reflecting the moon as it bends
over the ripe body of the city with harsh lips,
its kiss desperate and violent.
Ben Read lives in Spokane, Washington, where he is a junior at Lewis and Clark High School. He has been recognized by inroads, RiverLit, Airplane Reading, and The Adroit Journal. Other than writing, he likes to assault people with philosophy while participating in speech and debate, attend and read at local poetry slams in tiny coffee and burrito shops, and listen to music similar to the Juno soundtrack. He wishes his dog Wally would be a better muse, but until then, he’ll have to stick with the river.