from "The city has sex with everything"

Catherine Wagner


The city has sex with everyone.

Sex with Kroger.

All over the city, along the white-paint lines that separate parked cars,

parking lots are unzipping.

Between the lines the cars begin to bounce a bit, like babies,

and from the white lines as they widen and crack and split

a milky fescue grows, reedy wet pathways, little streams

roseate with lilies, and the streams uprift the concrete

in grand dispersing E-shapes, and now across the lot

the broken lines extend until they meet—

the cars are islanded, really bouncing now

and Kroger opens all its doors—

there's a big sale on—

"big sale" is how the Kroger understands itself to be consenting

to the city tendril-tunneling its homeless homefree energy into the produce wing—

the products rapt and blooming breaking open—

plastic wrap unravels on the floor—a cashier lies down in an expanding crack—

the milk in there is geothermal warm,

it bathes the cashier's nipples,

he wafts his hands along the reeds like baby Moses

and the Pharaoh's daughter who discovers him is fluorescent light

reshaping itself (now that the ceiling's gone) into a floating peaceful missile

congealed of all the city people's formerly constrained mutual care.

Their energy makes the fluorescence glow like an oil puddle

ridged in night and sun and opaque peacock fur

until the love missile (which is Pharaoh's daughter flow-light)

sparks like an old engine

and ducks and dives                                               

plays with its comet mates

caresses them in cloud and basking sun

and then remembers the cashier    

and lowers its soft missilic body and takes him

into its foggy spider-lightning womb

he closes his eyes

and plans to lead the people

but the cloud-missile says rest

and they listen to percussion

rows of imprisoned foodlike items

exploding in a fireworky mess, and the stray dogs

who lap at Kroger's floor, soft-tonguing, and chew her meat.

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Author Bio: Catherine Wagner is author of Nervous Device (City Lights, 2012) and other books. Recent work appears in Chicago Review, Lana Turner and Journal of Poetics Research. She teaches at Miami University.