The 2River View 26.2 (Winter2022)

Henry Cherry

Arrangement of Atoms

We rode big American sedans into the hills
where fires came with mudslide afterthoughts.

We plowed into embankments, into empty warehouses.
We lost the things that made us who we were

while clutching uselessness, a bottle of grain alcohol
for posterity. Cigarettes burned holes into the vinyl seats

charting that month's progress. We stuck cassettes into the
mammoth dashboard stereo and listened for the abyss.

They died on side roads, far from gas stations and became
attractions for other animals and lesser vermin.

But for the moments when they had filled tanks and
fresh tires, they drove with a gentle cushion of sway.

Moonlight Across the Poplars

When I hear the radio switch into the
silence before the song arrives,
it’s a bit of relief from the onslaught
of advertising and disc jockey
talk. The bit of nothing before the music
becomes a wave.

I see the way things might land
in between windshield wiper sweeps,
behind laundry machines, a millisecond.
A hint of static languishing within
a pale anticipation.

The label of time is useless, like snow, if
you don’t know its absence. The
numbering procedure that filters along
into absurdity, refusing to admit
that its sequential identity
becomes a wave.

The force of air, the breadth of wind, the
scent of smoke running into skin; each will
elongate and erase. Establish and decay.
The insistent departure nothing but
a pale anticipation.

Henry Cherry, a former cowhand and chef, is now a Los Angeles journalist and photographer. His work has appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, The Louisiana Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the recent pandemic collection Hello Goodbye Apocalypse.

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