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Anthem of My American Youth

by Ljubo M. Popovich

Milk-white memories of heaven-scented neighborhoods
Filled with eglantines and hummingbird nests,
Spray-painted alleyways and tall-hatted chimneys
Recur in silence-inflated rooms.
Bygone laughter echoes through the slender cavern
Between my ears.

Abandoned warehouses full of dark puddles,
Grottoes like the bottom of a well,
With gray brick walls covered in glowing dust,
And charming trails of niter and peatmoss,
Salt-encrusted ropes and frog-skinned mold.

And the well-mannered windmill at the crest of the hill,
And the lonesome outhouse out back,
With its invisible drip and perpetual cold,
Urine-tinted walls, well speckled with humidity,
Lit by that solitary, anachronistic light bulb.

Heavy eyes hang in windowpanes,
Draped with mascara lines, and scraped clean with crow’s feet.
The haunted streets like unlit hallways of a vacant house
In which ghost children still play.

A deadly doom descends over the lot of the drive-in,
The screen converted into a billboard:
Some woman with a toothpaste-covered smile.
A labyrinth of apartment buildings,
Yawning alleyway abysses
Harboring a populace of derelict taxicabs.

Insects glisten against the sky.
Silly-putty potted plants,
And a portly gentleman’s suspenders,
Flayed at the ankles, hanging
Over a whitewashed brick tenement’s
Critter-entombing walls.

Dreams can’t withstand
What the night takes with it.

Soft, sudden starlight on my
Love-baked oven-eyelids, which
Easily soon water.

Burst for me
Out your doorway, Youth,
Pistols blazin’
Till the reel winds up a gum-colored dream.

Copyright © 2018 by Ljubo M. Popovich

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