There Aren’t Any Ducks in the Duck Pond,
but that’s OK because there’s no God either,
so the lack of ducks
in a pond named after them
shouldn’t be cause for concern, this absent divinity
allowing us to believe in other things, like science
or perhaps ourselves;
& if we try hard enough,
we can put the ducks back into the duck pond,
put the water back into water, remove
purify the air, suck back
plastic buried in soil & set afloat in our oceans.
There aren’t any ducks quacking in the duck pond,
but the shape’s still there:
Just add water, & stir.
Just add lily pads, frogs, & swans. Just add
fiscal responsibility, municipal allocations,
& an appreciation of nature.
The chemicals we’ve spilled will decay over time:
In millions of years, it’ll be safe to swim there,
our air gloriously ready
to breathe again, our trash
odiferously decomposing, our melting glaciers
chillingly restored to pre-industrial dimensions.
There aren’t any ducks
paddling in the duck pond
or happily waddling by its muddy edges,
but there’s an overabundance of sludge & muck,
so let’s accept what it’s become
& rename it accordingly.
The Cashier’s Composed Entirely
of hamburger wrappers crinkling as she hands back my change.
The wind disperses her:
Where her body was becomes empty space, becomes a board
announcing menu combos
& prices ending in 99. Other employees near, all made up
of fast-food supplies:
Ketchup pouches & french-fry cones. Giant-sized plastic cups
imprinted with film-friendly
cartoon characters. Each worker changes into an assortment
of chain-restaurant detritus,
& the customers, too, metamorphose into their preoccupations: A mother converted
into Dolce & Gabbana purses; her child transformed
into a thousand videogames;
a melancholic man undone into a heap of fried-fish sandwiches.
Humanity’s sucked out
of everything human ’til we’re watches & iPads, dresses & ties,
attempting to be stylish
by proudly displaying what we possess; yet here we are
stuck in a fast-food joint,
allowing ourselves to melt into our generic surroundings
of consumerist camouflage.
& from the empty space where her hamburger wrappers were,
the cashier asks if that’ll be all,
as a thousand pens scatter to the floor, plastic against linoleum,
the sound of a poet’s body
scattering into silence.
Jonathan Greenhause has won awards from Kind of a Hurricane Press, Prism Review, and Willow Review, plus he was a finalist in 2016 for the Green Mountains Review Book Prize, Soundings East’s Claire Keyes Award in Poetry, the Iowa Review Poetry Award, the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, Oberon Poetry Magazine’s Annual Contest, and New Millennium Writings’ 41st and 42nd Poetry Awards. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Believer, The Malahat Review, Rattle, RHINO, The Rialto, and Subtropics, among others.