Anthony Butts is the author of The Golden Underground (Wayne State University Press, 2009).
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Broad-ribbed leaves of the calathea plant trickle water down into the mouth of its pot as if it's still fighting off competitors in the wild as kittens scamper past, the knees of their hind legs bending backwards with inhuman ease, like teenage boys leaping for rebounds on playgrounds, their hourglass sleekness glistening like the shards of forty-ounces littering the court: sons of southern autoworkers still unfamiliar with the Michigan that has taken them in, girls watching from windows as they care for the children of older sisters. The act of wanting offers only the hope of movement, for every target an aim, lives spent in the in-between, multitudes of coexisting in this particular filament as if no other were possible—American engines turning in a summertime traffic jam, white clouds from factories as if shift whistles sent them forth: the mind propelled by possibility and promise, an unbreakable stasis. The person who wanted us has come and gone several times like a tulip bulb's inhaled and exhaled lives: desire, the seed itself, creating. See what others see in us, that gem which no one owns, our skin a concept, a bloom of imagination like one's own yearning unfulfilled—unchecked as poison ivy, the fumes of its combustion more dangerous than the vine ignored. Boys want shots to drop. Girls want what's through the window, not anything close by or far afield, just the usual. Cat-backed Swedish and German automobiles scoot down the boulevard, someone else's barbecue cooking across the street. Desire never lies beyond what's given. I have hated the second-hand world. Who was that person divided between the glances of passersby? Bodies decompose, even in memory— the hand-in-hand of melted hourglass, bloody hips of gifted tulips detached and traveling the earth, until the mind puts an end to them like breakers washing out to sea. "Fine neighbors," someone will say. "Quiet types," because no one really knew them until the press run. Packing kernels inundate the universe: far off, coalescence; close in, vibration and sparking. Upon each smooth surface, each body, Picasso portraits, light and dark.