Land of the Optimistic Poets by Steven Croft

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Narrated by Steven Croft

Land of the Optimistic Poets by Steven Croft
illustration by Sue Babcock

At city’s end, away from its central towers, traffic light
after traffic light, billboard after billboard, past strip clubs
liquor stores bad neighborhoods to the broken edge
of the built environment, and on, riding now the scrape
of diesel train wheels past smoking factories, brownfield
tank farms, on past roundup crops in an expanse
of agro-mega-fields, on foot now down the trail of high
voltage lines, walking on to a broken forest, growing
in civilization’s cast-out debris, and up now past the bent
fuselage of a plane caught in the climate storm’s torsion,
which could not climb, clear the mountain, left here
as a totem of escape’s impossibility

And over the mountain, over a disturbed ocean dotted by
ships trailing industrial fishing nets and on to a desert land,
its once green and vibrant contours leveled by the blast
wave when everything went wrong

And on to where plants struggle to grow again, and on,
in a sudden field of wildflowers, before a bay with
a glass-bottomed ferry, like it has been waiting to cross
these new waters filled with sea life, to an unexpected
land of forests and gentle bird songs, where strangers
pass with greetings of friendship, and up to a colonnaded
hill-top patio looking down over fields where workers
who care about the land gather in the morning before
beginning, looking down at the zero waste factories, at
several cars appearing disappearing through the trees
noiselessly on electromagnetic magic of rails, in the fresh
air of morning, the distant blue sea glass of the bay

His fever-dream passing, the poet looks out louvered
vinyl blinds, where walkways crisscross a quad between
buildings, pictures the graffitied plaza across the brick wall
securing his campus from people paying out shrinking
wages, the city’s air thick hot circling over traffic-locked
freeways, and rubbing his eyes, in the hazy blur, sees
a semester’s horizon of unmarked papers


BIO: Steven Croft lives happily on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia among virgin pines, live oaks, magnolias, palm trees and varieties of ground vegetation, all home to various species of birds and animals. He has recent work in Sky Island Journal, Poets Reading the News, Third Wednesday, San Pedro River Review, and So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.