On the side of the road, white cardboard in the shape of a man,
illegible script. A signpost with scrawl: Will pay cash for diabetes strips.
A system under the system with its black box. Disability hearing?
a billboard reads. Trouble with Social Security? Where does the riot begin?
Spark of dry grass, Russian thistle in flames, or butterflies bobbing
as if pulled by unseen strings through the alleyway.
My mother’s riot would have been peace. A bicycle wheel
chained to a concrete planter. What metaphor
can I use to describe the children sleeping in cages in detention
centers? Birds pushed fenceward by a breeze? A train of brake lights
extending? Mesquite pods mill under our feet
on a rainless sidewalk. What revolution will my daughter feed?
A break-the-state twig-quick snap or a long divining as if
for water? A cotton silence? A death? Who will read this
in the next economy, the one that comes after the one that kills us?
What lessons will we take from the side of the road? A wooden crucifix,
a white bicycle, a pinwheel, a poem
waiting to be redacted: Which would you cross out?