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Vermont: August Fever

ISSUE:  Summer 1979
for Jim Cox

Blue deepens, sucks
the children’s shouts away
as crickets creep
to the ballfield, trill and scrape.
His radio whispers
from another time zone:
the Plains states beg
for rain, have even called
—out of his room
in a county “home”—
a Kiowa shaman to drool
his invocation, shaking bones.

Here, a distant
lightning caps bamboo
(persistent shoots
he has fought each spring to kill)
with pearled light.
His old dog drags her haunches
under the bed.
The idiot June bugs clap
for entry at the screen.
A moth does hara-kiri
on the book of gloomy
poems he handles. A wash of dust

falls on the page.
The inner throb of fever
claims the rhythm
of the all-but-vanished peepers.
A cough in the quiet. . .
and how the blue has drenched him!
He follows the course
in mind of a boyhood ball
—free at last—
that climbed into the blue.
The radio gutters
like a candle. So much has flown.

The town bells boom
their final time at nine.
He dreams his bones
have blued, and whisper something
in atavistic
syllables. The first
fat drops tink counterpoint
upon the tin.
In dream, a boy
comes on the lawn to stand
and look up to
the skies. Now he sinks in

to sleep, his summer sickness,
blue, a kind of peace.


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