by Daisy Fried
Helicopters sang out in the South Philly sky
And morning wind blew branches against our windows.
It was the hour my dream swarm
Twisted me pale on my pillow;
When like a bloodshot eye darting and twitching,
The last lamp stained the day incarnadine;
Where, trapped in my surly body
I recast the battle between lamp and day
As my struggle between intention and accident,
And like a face wiped dry by breezes,
The air was full of thrilling, fleeing things—
I was tired of writing, or you were,
You were tired of fucking, or I was.
This and that torched boutique sent up smoke.
Somebody heaved a planter into another store window.
The shopkeeper put the safety back on his sidearm,
With stinging eyes dialed his insurance adjuster.
Someone danced on a police car.
Someone blew up an ATM and his hand off with it.
Women who forgot to stop bearing children
Mopped their brows and chewed on ice;
It was the hour when, sweating and starving,
They gave birth to their latest moaning and cursing;
Like a sob cut short by foaming blood,
A siren, another, tore through the fabric of morning;
Buildings snuffled like marine mammals
Bedded down in smog sea.
Old ones in nursing homes, their minds gone,
Hawked up last juddering breaths.
They’d been abandoned
As I sometimes wish to abandon you.
Someone crept home, broken by stupidity.
Shivery Dawn in her green pink shift
Crawls up the Schuylkill, into the parklands.
Angry Philly, rubbing her eyes,
Grabs up her tools again, that old worker.
–after Baudelaire’s “Le Crépuscule de matin”
Daisy Fried’s fourth book, The Year the City Emptied: After Baudelaire is forthcoming from Flood Editions in 2022. She is the author of three other books of poetry: Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again, and She Didn’t Mean to Do It,all from the Pitt Poetry Series. She has been awarded Guggenheim, Hodder and Pew Fellowships. Recent poems have been published or are forthcoming in Paris Review, The Nation, Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, Subtropics, Zocalo, At Length and PN Review. She isa poetry critic, poetry editor for the journal Scoundrel Time and a member of the faculty of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. She lives in Philadelphia. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.