Clade Song 9

In the Shadows of the Atoms

Not because I have given you every herb bearing seed, and every tree, the bristlecone       and July gold, the many-flowered navarretia,

but because you have forgotten your goodbyes to the yellow-legged frog of the                   southern mountain and the evening primrose of the Antioch Dunes,

you will fly away with the marbled murrelet and great gray owl, and no limestone             salamander will grant a stay pending further review.

When the trees are dying one by one you will be awakened by dreams of being late.

Because the court had no notice that the jury’s findings ignored the laws of physics, the       government took the raisins.

Because the broken window and bullet holes found in the squad car were caused by the       ricocheting bullets fired from the officers’ own guns, the Delhi Sands flower-                 loving fly and Kern County sphinx moth are leaving, and you shall return to the             atoms that are slowly spinning away,

casting spectral shadows like prison bars even on the stars and their right to remain as       silent as desert road signs at night





Eric Howard has taught English at secondary schools, colleges, and abroad, using his retirement money to become the live-in landlord of a house of misfits and take part in pranks put on by the Los Angeles Cacophony Society. He obtained a master's from CSULA, studying formal poetry with Henri Coulette. For almost two decades, he worked as a magazine editor, which has informed his poetry about office life. His book, Taliban Beach Party (Turtle Point Press, 2017), addresses 9/11 and its aftermath in the context of Los Angeles history, beginning with satire but concluding with prophecy.  His poems have appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, Caveat Lector, Conduit, Gulf Stream Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Plainsong, and The Sun.