Alive Between the Bands

In a twenty-year temperature inversion

California walks in to me through

the windows of a hot car with no

air conditioning, it’s summer and

the heater is full-blast, it’s a hundred-

degree day, I am younger and California

is cleaner, the engine doesn’t self-

 

eject and it jets out oil all across

the country. This awful air of

ourselves, we have nowhere to drive

 

but down into it, the freeway

folding over and under, everything

settling which also means seething,

the old rocks with all the time

in-between them and the road

 

only a ribbon of exhaust

held harmless between the jaws

of a geologic age.

Your Second Shift at the Factory

Once the doors shut behind you,

shift to saving yourself.

Try steam and chest percussions

to chase factory smoke out of

your lungs, you need to be a human

still. Which is hard to do with dioxin,

so get that out too, with ghee.

If it goes as far

as your liver

 

then a long shot is to blast

it by eating dandelion buds.

Also asbestos comes in like

a cloud of unseeable needles

and won’t like to leave but

while you are learning how long

you have left to live and they are pulling

the professional

 

smile down over their lips

at the clinic, look up

hydrogen peroxide

and hum that to yourself

along with vitamin C

 

until you can find a doctor

who doesn’t want you dead.

Oh, and Atlantic dulse,

a seaweed that strips out mercury, so

you can start filling up with it

all over again in the morning.