Heat Wave

Heat Wave



See the particles of confederation, ionic

bonds broken, static shackles cast off.

See them shimmy their shimmer-slick

two-steps, dancing on dense air


like kerosene fumes or paint thinner

alone in the bucket. The mercury clobbers

up the tube; shirtless boys in Baltimore

break open hydrants to dance in the rain.


I wade the redundant political climes

chiming from AM 1090: They’re burning

the city down. Just ‘cause? A city block self-

immolates. Just cause. Two Januarys back


I stared into a false fire place, gas-lit,

as though it were a mirror and I had

no shame or face. That night I heard three

gunshots reverberate down the back alley


between all the brutal, brutal buildings.

I locked the door and did not call a soul.

How did I know a man, younger than me,

lay facedown, the molecules of his last


breath breaking apart as so much vapor

held aloft? This is the way it all ends:

in slow diffusion, the last ember

winked shut, the polished ringing in the ear


after the siren has passed away

into distance, the road’s far-off chevron—

tar and asphalt’s diminishing point,

as in a charcoal sketch. 



J. P. Grasser's poetry is forthcoming from AGNILinebreak, and The Adroit Journal. Tracy K. Smith recently selected his work for inclusion in the 2015 Best New Poets anthology. He currently lives in Salt Lake City, where he is a PhD candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah. Find him online at www.jpgrasser.com


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