I've still been flipping switches
exiting and entering rooms. I know
that the power has been out for days,
but muscle memory is more powerful
than the winds that put me in the dark.
The squirrels suffer from this amnesia, too:
they scamper across the ground and up
the truncated pines, whose top halves now
lay cut and stacked on the front curb,
radiating a harrowing pine odor,
as Neruda wrote, that mingles
with the singe of grills charring
meat from now-warm freezers to create
the rising incense of all neighborhoods
waking up after a storm.
Also part of this liturgy—the choir
of soprano chainsaws harmonizing with
the emphysema rattle of diesel-engined trucks
with their cheery picker baskets
and slowly strobing jaundice lights,
that fill rooms like the one I'm in now,
as I sit and write this poem under
the lamp that will not come on, regardless
of how many times the chain is pulled.
James Dickson is originally from Hattiesburg, MS and currently lives with his wife in Jackson, teaching English and Creative Writing at Madison Central High School. He was also awarded a poetry fellowship grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.