Lost in the Woods in an Election Year
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
Oak, pine, and moss repeat
like an ad for moss, pine and oak.
Scramble the woods
you’ve walked in before, get the woods
you’re about to walk in. The brain
prepares its autumn efficiencies:
auto-complete the colors of trees
with their heads on fire. Put the song
you sing to keep hunters away
on loop. Watch your round blue body
ravage the map, track your exhaust
of mileage and elevation. In this life,
information’s a kind of insurance
against the sound of your own
lonely voice, warbling When I fall
in love, it will be forever into the leaves
you mulch as you walk, each fallen
at a different stage of loss:
bone, leather, stone, rust. Against
the young pine prone across the trail,
mottled with brown so pigmented
it’s purple, broken out in neon lichen.
Here, in a palette trimmed from your vision
for infrequent use – sky’s pre-winter blue,
route highlighted in moss –
is your mother telling you secrets
she never recorded, parts of her
that don’t belong to you. Here,
above a puddle’s sudden ankle-depth,
a hanging leaf scraped of its lamina
so a threadbare fabric remains.
A sentence you, with all your words, couldn’t
Little blue pulse,
your heart stopped at a rifle’s far-off report,
keeping your bad eyes peeled
for pink blazes that promise
you aren’t lost:
you’re a secret too,
unfinished, unlikely organism, colors
all wrong for the scheme and season.
Election Year Diary
After the convention blooms a rash
of dark hibiscus: color of the lipstick
I put on to leave a certain print:
fainter, yet more permanent reflection.
At the rotary, all tempered glass,
a tour guide’s voice makes riders feel they’ve rounded
history’s bend. Just where his monologue
hairpins toward resolution and the route
loops back to Independence Hall—restrooms
and souvenirs—the flowers wad their wine-
red faces into the refuse of mourning,
handkerchiefs strategically abandoned
among the old revolution’s symbols
as they fell: inked scroll, cannon, cracked bell.