Jake Adam York


City of Grace

City of Grace, you open,
you part your curtains
and smile like a hostess
when we call your name,
you tender what any traveler needs,
a call to ease, a balm,
a kindness, whatever storm.
You take us in. City of Grace
and Benevolence, you say
you know what solace means,
burned so often they called you
Chimneyville, and now
you can't forget,
you've written it in bronze
outside the City Hall
the War made a hospital
for the Yankee
and for your Rebel sons,

The Second Person

Afternoon burns everything off Franklin Street.
Even the birds, even the flies.

Or iced-tea sugar and chicken grease weigh everyone
into a doze, all indoors, in a cool

they said would never come eighty years ago
when this was still the center of business

and the civilized left these high hours to the dogs,
ice in a highball, and let each house

The Small Birds of Sound

When they come
filling the yard with their overheard,

broke-glass catastrophes of voice,
overcrowded party line,

he lets the screen door clap
to see them plume

the settle back to the fence,
aftershocks of crowd and wail.

When they come
he says again he was home at breakfast

radio preacher doing love thy neighbor
and then the bomb,

just ask the wife.
The silence

in the TV's cathode glow
slowly fills with questions

as starlings shutter light
then weigh the lines, voices