060.3: The Tuscaloosa Issue:: Behn & Runge & Gorham & Gunn 060

The Tuscaloosa Issue:: Tuesday: We feature writing by Robin Behn, Justin Runge, AB Gorham, and Katy Gunn.

This week, The Offending Adam pauses our usual publication schedule for a specific and important purpose: focusing our attention on the tragedy that just befell the American South, and in particular the state of Alabama. Each day this week, we will present writers who have a connection with Alabama writing on Alabama. Those of us at TOA and the writers participating in this week's issue encourage you to help and support the victims of the tornado by donating to the American Red Cross and to other aid organizations. Tuscaloosa may be broken and Tuscaloosa may be bruised, but Tuscaloosa will recover. And it will recover with our help. The Offending Adam

Vigil. Summer. Alabama.

by Robin Behn

A withering green that sags to yellow and yellow
that chokes on brown and brown collapsing to the color of everything.

Chipmunks, little fists of dust.
Hummingbirds broken in half.

Every morning the word morning stuck to the flowers’ tongues.
Every evening time rubbing itself raw.

Who’s been interrogating earth?
What did they do to make her crack?

The yard man showing up to shave
the scabs off the grass so he can eat.

Digits rising. More Alabama boys
enlisting in the sand.

In the field, every ear shriveled. The sun giving orders
to a convention of the deaf.

Where we are cut, a brief, sidereal rust.
What if not a drop appears in the upcoming history of earth?

Jay: a blue powder
sprinkled over the outlines of the lesser finches.

The magnolia doesn’t even stink.
Eventually color won’t exist.

We’ve taken to rising en masse,
embarking upon the still-dark hours

with quiet, similar voices.
Tired beasts. Slack leashes. Other tired beasts.

By noon, since lunch exists, outside the mission
crisp brown camos ignite in the wheelchairs’ gleam.

from The Smallest Space We Both Can Take

by Justin Runge

In the Southern fashion of decrepitude and neglect, my car forms a carapace
of pollen spread from dandelion and ironweed, from boneset and elm, thick
and the color of tea stain, spores adding golden green which makes the body
almost an environment, thriving with spiders that disperse as I turn the key
and swing the door, a haunted house’s web and dust kicked up, a basement
must I filter through a pulled-up tee shirt, sat long enough to find the lights
don’t work, and leave to spring the trunk lock, leaves and seedpods spilling
over the forgotten belongings: muddied clothing quarantined, a newspaper
marking the last date of sunlight, sporting equipment, tools produced at last
time’s attempt to fix this—the contents, topped with new dirt and the dead
shed of trees, are what’s left of an apathetic time capsule, a half-looted tomb.

from The Smallest Space We Both Can Take

by Justin Runge

I sealed my sweaters tight in Tupperware without knowing
this state would call for them, would forget some months
its promise as subtropic, its pledge to never freeze the soil,
concrete the streetside leaf piles into unmoveable masses,
turn transparent things opaque, what’s let out of the lungs,
or rain in its pelt cloudy like milk that only occasionally
stiffens to snow (so rare the locals stay home or, curious,
hold five-second old flakes like ladybugs in their palms);
I don a cardigan outside and in, the home sorely unready
for frost, walls solely insulated by the dead or hibernating
animals that exploit the holes and cracks, antique heater’s
gush running a bee line to window gaps that did not hold
cellophane in the face of a sill-bound cat who cries his fur
is not enough, just as ours is not—we live in our sweaters,
we sleep in our sweaters, nothing and no one well-adapted.

Near the Solitary Plover

by AB Gorham

Wasps found their humid way
           inside our onion lantern

           Buzz rapidly, trying to get free
& the carpenter bees too

I don’t know how they got in there
           I just know they’re stuck

           I take down the lantern
from the porch’s ceiling
           to show you

The globe vibrating, hanging from my hand

           I rock it back and forth
so pollen smokes yellow

from the tin canister bottom
           Humming swells to a steady

           numb, & you stare open
           as I approach, still

The South sings its offerings
           We gracefully handle them

Tunnels They Will Leave

by Katy Gunn

It is darker than your eyes are shut
covered with a house.

There is hall space, spare room space,
space below the table, space above the table,
and stale bread space inside the space
inside the breadbox – they are all the same.

Emma told me one tree stood up,
roots curled into the sky
like there was something to find there.

There is space in the veins
of its leaves in the clay,
and it is the same as the sky.

Annie said the other side of Queen City
has light, which can’t be. It is dark as no hand
when you hold it to your face.

Your hand
is a house. Your house is sky.

Ashley said power poles will come out
like splinters. The tunnels they will leave
could fit your legs, your kitchen floor,

some books or dolls. All things are dark
and weigh nothing.

The sky is not yours,
but there is space in your lungs.
Tonight, pay attention to the way it expands.