The fireworks, a choir of sulphurous song
in chemical colors of unreality,
were the only bombs bursting in air
that muggy Fourth night.
I caught the scent of their smoky deaths
wafting up from the beach as I sat
stewing in ozoned air unfit to breathe
even before they shed their glittering remnants
into the surrounding sky before falling,
uncountable nighttime Icari, into the Sound.
Years back it was possible to see those lofted highest
from the perimeter of the back yard, but that was
before the town exploded in a riot of overdevelopment.
Now duplexes the size of boutique hotels
have replaced trees, that, while tall, still allowed
for the occasional glimpse of the airborne festivities.
This overcrowding is not limited to the playgrounds of the rich.
Megastores and malls, boxes of condos and apartments
are shoehorned into whatever county, city, town
hungry for taxes and kickbacks will nudge zoning to allow it.
In the sands of the southwest,
the swamps of the southeast,
the feeble landlocked heart of what separates north from south,
the reckless sprawl of community living
mushrooms around glaucous manmade lakes.
If no groundwater to feed them exists,
intricate networks of piping siphoning off
drinking water held in towers refresh them.
Industry racing to extract whatever can be gained
from despoilment devours farms and forests,
mountains, high deserts, even wetlands,
as wildlife dies in silent extinctions of progress
and flames sometimes shoot out of kitchen faucets.
Everyone involved in this environmental extravaganza –
federal, state, local, industrial titans,
mega-developers, farmers, ranchers, land-poor widows –
knows what we know but shrinks from saying.
Someday, when someone standing in the spotlight
on the stage of the world says the wrong thing,
pushes the wrong button, fights the wrong war,
those incendiaries in the sky won’t be celebrating
the birthday of an experiment in government gone wrong.
So, in a world where until now money
has always been the final power,
in what some might call wisdom and others greed,
those with the wherewithal to sell, buy or steal
with the wink-and-nod imprimatur of officialdom
suck up what they can as fast as they can:
eating, drinking, making merry and the most of what they can
before it won’t matter if the light is red or green.
RC deWinter’s poetry is widely anthologized, notably in “New York City Haiku” (NY Times, 2/2017), “easing the edges: a collection of everyday miracles” (Patrick Heath Public Library of Boerne, 11/2021) “The Connecticut Shakespeare Festival Anthology” (River Bend Bookshop Press, 12/2021) in print: 2River, Event, Gargoyle Magazine, the minnesota review, Night Picnic Journal, Plainsongs, Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Ogham Stone, Twelve Mile Review, York Literary Review among many others and appears in numerous online literary journals.