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Clade Song 3

Frozen Cities       

                                                  approaching Dallas

Gliding almost soundlessly over the bellicose city
and its outskirts.  Over brown and grey woodlands.
Snaking lines of rationalized housing tracts. Squares
of empty fields. Circles of silos.  All still in the strange
winter cold.  Just a trickle of traffic below the curved up
wing tip that seems to pass slowly.  Patches of snow
by iced blue swimming pools and brown-green lakes.
Patterns of improvised developments give way
to a marsh half-dead.  A military warehouse on its banks,
parked trucks.  City of oil.  City of presidential death.
Of pernicious empires stolen from hot, humid land. None
of this emerges as I come closer to its frozen life forced
into mock innocence.  Only the plane’s break-neck speed
swoops into vision when it touches the grey runway.
                                                                leaving Paris

We drive north. Early afternoon the February world
is covered in white frost.  Along the narrow highway,
flat fields lined by small, shivering trees. We drive away
from a city of boulevards.  Of burnt palaces.  Of cafe disputes  
barges and booksellers.  We’re four strangers hitchhiking
who stop roadside for coffee and look back past the illusion
of pristine white to a huge brown bubble in the distance.
A city that poisons itself refusing to stop for winter.
City of lights and suicides.  Of serpentine river and bridges,
City of crushed plastic bottles.  Of romance and radiation.
In love with its language but jealous of clarity beyond
its ramparts and control.  City of peace whose carbon
stains make visible the lifelines in our cupped palms
as we hold the cheap coffee that keeps us moving north.
                                                        from an Algerian Village

As we approach the northern border, one hitchhiker describes
the day machetes were bought up from the stores in the city
where she was born.  The city where her mother still lives.
News funneled through the narrow streets up into the hills.  
They came in killing anyone.  Cut throats of women in the alleys
as the army waited outside.  The city knew this would happen.
So everyone stayed in.  City of unpicked oranges.  City under red
moon and star.  City whose sheep disappear in summer dust.
Whose oil could rival many other’s.  City lost in preaching
and combat.  City whose dry air preserves figs for months indoors.  
A city frozen in civil heat.  Her mother will never leave the city  
that once fought itself free, but sent her here to study in cities  
of past occupiers.  She speaks of Algerian orphans in Paris behind us.
Of how gendarmes made her push a car across the border to the next.

Clade Song 3 right

Sharon Coleman's a fifth generation northern Californian with a penchant for visual art, languages and word roots. Her poems or blink fiction have appeared in Caesura, Criminal Class Review, Sparkle Blink, Blink Ink, Berkeley Poetry Review, Ghost Town/Pacific Review, and online at Poecology, Lily Review, riverbabble, Full of Crow and Dark Sky Magazine.  She's a contributing editor at Poetry Flash and teaches poetry writing at Berkeley City College. She is a co-curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and was recently nominated for a Pushcart and Micro Award for blink fiction.  Her chapbook Half Circle is due out in July 2013 from Finishing Line Press