Kin and Kind

Oh, man my relative said
about my son
He so has Grandma Ellis’s eyes

The Angeles forest burns
and I’m trapped indoors
The air! The air!
It’s bad for the baby!
Shut the windows!
Close the doors!
Turn on the air conditioner!
Stay inside! Stay inside!
My wife called and said
as I push my burden before me
up hill
past asphyxiated parakeets
dead on the pavement
I tell her about the bird
her tongue leaps and spins like a field mouse cornered by fire
The city! The city!
They warned about dead birds!
Call 311! Call 311!
Report it! They want to know!
It’s a new disease!

My throat itches like a night at the bar
she’s right about this air
near hills in haze
far hills unseen
field mice burning in fields
the stroller turns – aimed for home
and we, the baby, the pram and me
roll down the broken sidewalk
like defeated bitter oranges
dropping desireless from an unpruned tree
from room to room
windows slide closed
on their shoddy tracks
like a student driver clomping on the clutch
car stuttering toward the western glow
the house is sealed
against smoke and disease
tuna fish and duct tape are in good supply
avian vectors of epidemic
must fly by into the vaporous distance
seeking victims for illness
but a baby’s routine
is not one to disorder
the walk, the café
the sleep under the stroller’s canopy
all off and now he cries
and I read him Bible passages
he’s my property it tells me and he must honor me
and I can do unto him as I will
such as cut him
into twelve pieces and send
the severed parts to twelve enemies
and the bit with the eyes –
the head bit with the eyes like grandma Ellis’s eyes
that I take my relative’s word for
that’s how the dead look upon us anew
in old disapproval
it’s enough to make me believe in reincarnation
when those eyes like Great Grandma’s eyes,
beseech, “Are you some kind of retard?”
Some kind; yes, Grandma; yes, Son; some kind

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