Emergency Procedure

If I lived on the Blue Ridge,

I could be healthy, work as a craftsman,

build a log cabin, forget this complacent life.


If I moved to the Outer Banks,

I could eat better, fish off a wooden pier for snapper,

chew seaweed for snacks and dinner.


I hate my piedmont half-an-acre life

sustained on a suburban cul de sac,

scars of right-of-way passages, like surgical tracks,

cutting across my back yard, and that ominous line

of natural gas buried next to my drive – 

one more sign that it’s the utilities 

keeping me alive.


What exactly is mine?

Needle-filled gutters, like clogged arteries, 

dying bushes, like plaque lining my wall,

or the cracked concrete drive

deteriorating in front of my eyes?

My house lives on life support, inch-by-inch

sliding on a red clay gurney

over to my neighbors.


But what of that vein of natural gas? 

With a sharp knife and lit match 

couldn’t I, using a surgeon’s touch,

erupt my dying cul de sac? 

Resuscitate my life with a fireworks blast?


It would be worth it at last:

Better than living like a sad cadaver

with stents continuing the past, 

trimming over and over

the trimmed away grass.


An earlier version of Emergency Procedure was published in the June 2019 Issue of the New Delta Review.


Categories: Poetry, Selection: 2019

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