j u s t i n    c a r t e r

 

 

Aubade


In the Garden of President Heads









































Aubade

 

Every morning, my lover asleep beside me, I check ESPN to see if that racist guy still owns that basketball team &, even though they keep saying it's being sold to someone else, every morning he still somehow owns it. My lover stirs & I want to whisper Jane Mead poems into her ears but it's hard to make sense of anything—why there's more & more humidity each day, why Donald Sterling gets to sell the Clippers for two billion dollars when he only spent twelve million on them, why I want him gone so much but when I was eighteen & my grandmother, her intestines failing, told me she was ashamed that our country elected a black man, I didn't want her gone, wanted to cover all the bad things she'd said with a tarp. What happens behind closed doors & who decides who gets protected, who does the First Amendment apply to, someone on the high school football message board I stopped visiting is probably asking right now, & someone else is probably typing it protects everyone, you can't fire him as a response.

 

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In the Garden of President Heads

 

Thirty-eight stone heads, each the size
of an elephant, sit blank-eyed around us,
their mouths turned downwards.
We've done something wrong.
We had to to get here, found the place
where the fence had been trampled
& climbed over. Behind us, Houston
rests in haze, the skyline begging
for night to cover it so each building
can show off—there's one we called
The Daft Punk Building, flashing neon
at all hours, & another that's red,
the brightest red. What's that,
you ask, pointing to it, & I don't want
to tell you it's the hospital where
my grandmother died years before
I had the capacity to remember,
so instead I say that's where my dad
met a famous news anchor,
because
that's true as well. That man, too,
is dead now, after years of reporting on
the slime in the city's ice machines,
after shutting down the brothel
from the ZZ Top song. We sit in front
of Millard Fillmore & Franklin Pierce.
You know, I say, the important guys
are over by the highway.
It's true—
Lincoln & Washington share space
by the Beltway & Jefferson has a park
near one of the bayous. Most
of the rest, though, are here: this yard
behind an industrial warehouse,
together, barely divided, & we're
just two people beside them,
all of us forgotten together in this place.

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JUSTIN CARTER is a PhD student at UNT. His work appears in The Collagist, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Passages North, & Sonora Review.


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