'Tis the season to update the dreary place.
So, this year we skipped the tired red ribbons
that spiral the front columns like candy canes.
Instead, we rainbowed the space― hung sexy lace.
I ordered Gitmo closed and asked for the extra clothes
to patch together a warmer wintery scene.
We clothed some homeless folks in Georgetown,
gave them three squares each and a jail house cell.
We wrapped the White House in orange prison weave
and prayed most bigly so you might still believe.
In the back-forty,
double-barrel beside me,
down on one knee
I wrap my hands
around the sturdy chest
of a bald eagle
12 gauge shotgun spray,
stunned, but alive.
I watch for turning
beak or striking talons
that can kill.
The bird stirs,
thrashes and fights
I release my grip.
Bloodied wings pump
and lift to sky,
Suddenly the raptor dives,
takes a dove alive.
My tall and uppity suburban lawn needs mowing
because it has risen a good inch above the city's ordinance.
So, first I grab a cold one and think a minute
of my dad's talk of reaping grain by hand,
his sickle glinting under moonlight,
the blade's pendulum swung low and level
across his field of harvest.
No peasant calluses roughen my hands
and I leave behind my thoughts of honest labor
as I step royally onto the deck of my John Deere lawnmower
and set my cold brew in the cupholder. My royal ass
arranges itself on a foam and vinyl throne.
I engage the keyswitch and start my Kingdom's engine.
Aaah!!! The mower roars and the ground trembles.
Fierce blades whirl beneath my feet:
Loud the roar and rich the smell
of fossil fuel combustion.
While Bud rides cool
coozy and shotgun -
the cutting begins -
and the grass catcher bags the kill
We only pause to drag full black bags
to the curb for pick-up.
After the slaughter I head to shower
where cool and holy waters
wash away the sweat and airborne grime.
Then I pull another cold one from its ring.
Damn, that lawn looks sweet and smells good.
Pop a tab - it is good to be King.
Next evening is trash pickup -
Last year it was boom box sounds and low bass beats rocking the hood.
as three or four muscled black guys wrangled the trash to the truck.
They moved fast and mean like garbage collection was a team sport
practised on city streets and back alleys
before your crew snagged a route in the suburbs.
That crew moved like they needed that job for car payments, or rent, or a mortgage.
Could have been diapers, insulin, or a ring, a good lawyer or double deuces.
And all that time the radio's rapping about glocks and gangsters.
Each December they'd scotch-tape a cheapo Christmas card to your trash lid -
Seasons Greetings and all, but also a small note that if you liked their services
tips were appreciated such as liquor, or a twenty in an envelope taped to the lid.
But, that all changed when management got some faster automated trucks,
and the crew shrunk to two sad and weary homies slouching like the blues,
and eventually some white guys from Waste Industry Inc,
helicoptered up from Houston
and bought the company.
Now, on trash day,
It's down to just one skinny white guy listening to country music
and rumbling through suburbia in this fancy dancy monstrous rig that belches
god-awful fumes up and down the streets.
And when he stops at my curb
His truck's engine grunts like a pig.
Hydraulic pistons hiss and spit.
A greedy mouth swallows the black bags whole
and metal jaws clang shut like a prison cell.
Gears start grinding away at things inside.
Some lazy pistons hiss
and the radio whistles Dixie.
And then he's gone
down and over
to the next block.
Leaving just me and the lawn
basking in the envy of lesser lawns.
The machinery-sound still echoing in my brain
begins to settle into a ringing in my ears
as if harness bells jingle faintly
and a team of powerful hooves
prances over cobblestone,
their dark nostrils flaring proudly
and snorting jets of frost.
The King of Beers dismounts
and calls my name,
and in the cold nasty light
of the electric icebox
and sort of shake hands
as equals in victory.
I pop the tab and toss back my head,
raising high and tilting back the brew of ancient gods.
My lips touch the edge and curve of metal
and inward pours the Midas kiss.
Jemshed Khan has poems in places like Rigorous, I-70 Review, Writers Resist, Coal City Review, TheHypertexts, and Fifth Estate. He was just nominated for The Pushcart Prize and has completed a chapbook.