Nate Klug

 

Eye of a Needle

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland

 

Hard to tell the mourners from the exercisers,

heads down as they fan out

from the parking circle, pistoning steep paths

beyond the columbaria,

Rihanna maybe hidden in one hand.

An open book, slab pages uncut;

a few cherubs, in need of a wash,

among the headstone crescents–then the mausoleums,

higher up that same crest, each a little country jail

sheltering the 19th century

smelting families, Navy admirals, barons

of Folgers coffee. Poor Wintermute,

once hung with a “for sale” sign,

though who could blame the grandson?

Ghiradelli with his bar of chocolate

tucked in a fresh fake wreath at every season.

One wickless candle, if there’s an altar

inside, plastic roses facing a bench

for nobody to sit on, and a painted pasture

in the opalescent window, usually

a pane or two gouged out.

New locks on some door grates

as though they’d guessed we look.

Sensing rain, carpenter ants

funnel up the same granite slab my friend would lean against

like its animated grains.

They thin to single file within the shelter

of carved letters, revising a hook to a ligature,

busy at their lip of space.

 

Jaspar County Almanac

 

1. October

 

Three orange vests against sage grass.

The duct-taped scope

the skinny one steadies

 

on a rotted stake–

same break in the ditch wire

 

where, at dusk, on the other end

of work, bucks scour                        

the wind for urine scents,

 

heads rearing at each swerving

of our flicked-on brights.

 

2. April

 

Rain’s prediction means

more topsoil, slopped as soon

as possible into local gulleys

 

to jostle with earlier stormwater

so that, driven down

 

any hint of a track,

PK fertilizers pull

from surface sheets

 

and in ditches a farm or two

away, the mixture blooms

 

as blue-green algae’s

galactic swirls. Slinks

toward waiting drains.

 

 

Nate Klug is the author of Anyone, a book of poems (The University of Chicago Press, 2015), and Rude Woods, a modern translation of Virgil’s Eclogues (The Song Cave, 2013). He works as a Congregationalist minister and lives in California.

 

 

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