Tom Clark
Hazard Response

As in that grey exurban wasteland in Gatsby

When the white sky darkens over the city

Of ashes, far from the once happy valley,

This daze spreads across the blank faces

Of the inhabitants, suddenly deprived

Of the kingdom's original promised gift.

Did I say kingdom when I meant place

Of worship? Original when I meant

Damaged in handling? Promised when 

I meant stolen? Gift when I meant

Trick? Inhabitants when I meant slaves?

Slaves when I meant clowns

Who have wandered into test sits? Test

Sites when I meant contagious hospitals?

Contagious hospitals when I meant clouds

Of laughing gas? Laughing gas

When I meant tears? No, it's true,

No one should be writing poetry

In times like these, Dear Reader,

I don't have to tell you of all people why.

It's as apparent as an attempted

Punch in the eye that actually

Catches only empty air—which is

The inside of your head, where

The green ritual sanction

Of the poem has been cancelled. 

Found In Volume 31, No. 05
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  • Tom Clark
Tom Clark
About the Author

Tom Clark is a member of the Core Faculty in Poetics and New College of California.  His books include Zombie Dawn, a collaboration with Anne Waldman (Skanky Possum, 2003).