Around here, trees are hats,
little bowlers, van gogh lids of blown
divi trees that lean sideways
for the better view—
toppers, kangols, pork pies, wig hats.

I woke to the racket hailstorm:
little funnels of green at the edge of the hillside—jutting
out over the sea—the lives of people closeted
inside—who are they? Everyone’s simple sorrow
writes a book a day—fills the hearts
of us with such pathos, bravery—&
then the small cruelties—
How do we speak to each other? I will never
meet the man in the shack on the hill.
Is he someone I should know?
Someone I could love?
Beauty assaults us until we say no, no.
It hurts to take in such brightness—
no, no—the cruelties, so familiar—are not
as bad—they are daily & interwoven.
How to know where to walk?
Space will give you the air you crave—even
the trees are reaching for a view—because
the splendor is devastating in its scope & depth—


I’m in the shadowlands of memory—
it’s comforting in its grayness—there is
nothing stellar here—just the clank of the
ordinary machine, working—&
repeating—but its gears are marvelous in
their relationship & I know I can’t really be
with another person—
we are all so covered in our own language
& dreams—no way thru—& great loneliness
is the human condition—but why?


I want to stay in the picture—
in the trees—comfort of having a ground, sense
of the growling biology & its laws—beyond me &
it rules me—takes the choices away—good.
No more this if this, that if that.
I need to sleep a while.


Sheets of rain—sideways—
grey rain sky—Pittsburgh in California—
but this is a wet gray—watercolor gray
with blue in it—
soft grey like an ocean
in the sky—beautiful.
Look again in the blue dream book.


The sadness of being so wrong about someone—
is it the sadness of no ground?
How am I so blind?

You will find me
with the tendons & arteries.

There is no law—but one must strive
to find the law—& then lie with its breaking—
each time—body/blood/moving/regeneration—
Dear house of great miracle
& pain & lethargy—
                                   I loved your laws—
your belief, your sweetness is incomparable—
I have to leave you for the open road & new beliefs—
detachment is not an option or desire in this life—
                       ——in in in––––
until you crack split wish you could go back back back—
to that time of bronze rich soil and great announcements—
the only sorrow is finding how solitary we are —how

Around here, trees are hats, little bowlers, van gogh lids of blown
divi trees that lean sideways for the better view—





Jan Beatty’s eighth book, Dragstripping, is forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2024. American Bastard won the Red Hen Nonfiction Award (2021). Recent books include The Body Wars (University of Pittsburgh) and a chapbook, Skydog (Lefty Blondie Press, 2022). Writing for the New York Times, Naomi Shihab Nye said: Beatty’s new poems in “The Body Wars” shimmer with luminous connection, travel a big life and grand map of encounters. Beatty worked as a waitress, abortion counselor, and in maximum security prisons. As faculty emerita at Carlow University, she directed Creative Writing, Madwomen in the Attic workshops, and the MFA program. (Photo courtesy of Beth Kukucka)

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