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Calvin Little and the City of Boys

Paul Vermeersch
From:   The Fat Kid. ECW Press, 2002.


Here in the swamp the boys have dragged
lumber stolen from construction sites
to build a city in the trees. In their minds
this is civilization. Rungs nailed up the trunks.

Calvin sits astride the burly biceps of an oak,
saying na na na to gravity's bloody contract,
saying I am a monkey, I am lighter than leaves,
then leaf-light he leaps to land a branch away.

Sure-footed on the next limb, he fists the nails
in his pocket, all sizes. They stab at his palm,
feel like ancient weapons, the evolution of claws.
Up goes another rung on the great ladder up.

There isn't a father for miles around who knows
where his hammer is. The blackened thumbnails
go unexplained. So-and-so twisted his ankle
falling off his bike. Do not speak of the City of Boys.

Summer is only four months long. Next year
the boys will come here only half as much.
New subdivisions will uncurl their asphalt fronds,
and all these acres will be turned to basements.

Next year the boys will turn thief again, retreat
deeper into the swamp, all the animals will follow
as the bungalows rise up. At night the boys will piss
on fresh drywall and drag floorboards away in the dark.

The fat kid, the tall boy, the short guy, the brain —
high above the mud. This place was made for them.
It is Saturday and Calvin nails on another rung,
the same boy he was last year-only taller,
            and wearing different shoes.



Paul Vermeersch's works copyright © to the author.


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