To the Tune of Santa Anas

Karen An-hwei Lee

A lonely man sets himself on fire —

a furloughed woman drives right into the armory.

Santa Ana winds rise in a heat wave.

Ginkgo leaves, dying green to green,

burn in the autumnal dark,

so do not risk a cigarette.

I hear the buds of a Chinese Bee Tree

drum the sidewalk in code

as black phoebes in the eucalyptus,

mottled sleeves of risk-averse

paper hazards

cut their wings in relief at nine o’clock,

ninety degrees, ninety-one —

while we drone on about a debt ceiling.

As the heat rises, so does the aversion to risk,

whether to rise or fall

with the wind

pushing the value of currency out to sea.

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