Thirty-sixth Day Without Rain, Austin, Texas

Here in Texas we are younger now.
Not quite men and women, yet greater than before,
We labor at our efforts to fit in.
The local lingo fills the hours like wine,
A thick and salty beverage:
Ee becomes A, A becomes eye,
“I want to lave now” and “expline”—
Aped by us with amorous dread.
It fascinates like blinking lights, like gothic
Horrors, old marquees, or like
The bald transfixing sun
Which slows our steps and torments us
With sudden whims to dash in front of cars.
Truly, with this sun, one could go mad
If one were not in Texas.
Here, we are reduced to base sensation,
To lurching buses, sweaty shoes, to dragonflies.
Dare you assert that such things cannot be?
You have not seen them feasting on mesquite beans,
Flourishing their tails at the corner grill, where
Old romances gracefully expire
Over double helpings of chicken-friend steak.
The fare is hearty. We can’t complain.
You had foretold we’d end our days in rain.
I have no wish to die a poet’s death,
Clinging to a churchspire with my toes,
Toasting sang-froid with a grudge in one hand
And a paper cup of coffee in the other.
So we parch and live, and live and parch,
And hum a while, and curse a while, and sweat.
And, when all our energies are spent,
In the long summer season we hang ourselves out to dry
On the sparkling, inglorious firmament.

August 1993