The Tumbleweed

From the highway 
Its loose form spun 
And dervished, a dust devil.

Thousands like it had gathered
‘Round the exits of the town
And knitted a blockade. A Russian weed,
It was. Its lifestyle communal.

Shade-browed ranchers watched the tumbleweed, knowing
It would lay Marxism’s seeds in the West, 
They feared it and eminent domain and prairie fires.
The sunset declined and the weeds chittered
In the waste. A longhorn died and they uprooted
Its meat with muzzles like coyotes, or not at all
Like that. Blinked eyes formed in silhouette. 

Dust devils — arbiters of a painted world.
Each year their number grew, and soon they knew
They’d won — that there would come a gray
And whirling viny day
Where all would sleep

‘Neath rust-red resurrection’s banner.

The Cartographer

Out of Calypso, Nevada
Where the stubby trees planted by its founders
	stood enclosed in the mezzanine of the Palace Hotel,
I plied my trade on horseback.
About the trees —
I filmed them. Scoped their landscape
In my camera. Washed out by the sun.

I plied my trade upon the hills above the town where
	few could find me. Looked down
And as if grains in film
Watched those passing by. Perhaps they looked
At other things
Or perhaps not.

Each day I know The Bomb
Will fall 					and then,
Each distinction, each bit of beauty will be naught.
The Big Bomb held low in the sky
By a tear of mucus from a nose
Above the clouds: from there the tumbleweeds flow,
Motes of dust.

So many had been put in the ground as heroes and
By heroes before me. Below in the town
The dead converge and loot the wagons
The people are weep and The Bomb drops
Kisses the earth with Its muzzle. 

No explosion. It is still. The dead
Still raging.
Tumbleweeds still falling from the sky.
I retched in disappointment for there was
	no tremendous boom to capture,
And vomit yellowed on my shoe
As the film fuzzed and no camera could capture
My horse’s legs’ buckling. A slow leak,
	beauty still expunged.

We would all be killed without any capture of it
After all, and so to not rob us of catharsis
I dropped my camera and plied my trade 
	with dull pistol. Still shooting, I suppose.
The dead still walked in the town below. Tumbleweeds,
	no exit.
We must destroy what the bomb cannot.

— Noam Hessler is a poet from New England. They are currently a student at Vassar, and can be found on Twitter at @poetryaccnt1518.

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