Jeremiah at the Outlet Mall
Even the parking lot is a three day walk across,
where a man named Harold Hillman
has painted his initials around the shadows of the cars.
Behold! Only he has left his mark on this wilderness.
All else is asphalt and fiberglass.
Behold the pyramid of linens!
Yea, I have not seen such riches since yesterday.
How can we know ourselves in this Nike cookie sheet?
The East is the same as the West.
The North is the same as Sheol.
I care not for your discount clearance sale, says the Lord.
I scoff at your makeshift markdowns.
Show me the hand that wove the fiber
and I will bless you and your auction house.
Introduce me to the underdressed pressers,
and to the boys who stick pins in shirts
while waiting for their overdue mothers.
Who will appease them? Where will they park?
Their lot will not be evenly delineated,
yet I believe we will see their glory at our feet,
and around our necks,
before this concrete plate gives birth to righteousness. *
Redemption of the Field at Broadway and 163rd
Cousin, this is my ancestral square.
My hapless forefathers tilled it
from the time of the good judges.
You have been a worthy caretaker,
indeed a fine custodian
protecting the soil with this slab of cement
and dressing it with your coat and bags –
yea you have erected a shelter on this land,
a sukkah of cardboard grapefruit cartons.
I have returned from my sojourn in the West
and I will redeem this plot again for my use.
Do not protest and risk the wrath of this bandage.
Fear not for a fair price. I’ve got a slew of nickels.
I will claim my right of inheritance,
my field of concrete, my little kingdom.
And I will build a house to house my house.
See, I have seed and a child’s spork
to till the dormant soil.
There will be zucchini on the roadway.
This plot will bloom again. These two poems are from Adam Sol’s recently published book Jeremiah, Ohio (House of Anansi Press, 2008). Adam Sol is the author of two other collections of poetry, Jonah’s Promise, which won Mid-List Press’s First Series Award for Poetry, and Crowd of Sounds, which won the Trillium Award for Poetry. He is also the author of numerous essays and reviews, and teaches English at the Laurentian University at Georgian College Program.
Images by Yvette Drury Dubinsky