Title Our Authors

Myopia and Maplewood Rose Garden

By Lee Nelson

Today we find

an abandoned bicycle

in relatively good shape.

A homeless man

with green eyes,

green lasers really,

entombed in the

hardest living

that has ever

accosted us,

materializes

from the gorge,

and makes it clear

to me and my beagle

nothing is abandoned.

 

But he isn't worried

about us. 

His concern lays

with the black man

in the bib overalls

with the black

garbage bags

in the shopping cart,

singing and dancing

to what appears and sounds

to be a transistor radio.

 

I appreciate him. 

He is a breathing

time capsule

moseying the proximity

of Kelsey's Landing

in the mist

of Lower Falls.

 

My beagle and I do

what we always do. 

We are sure to smell

the gophers and the fox

adjacent to

 

The Seat of Forgetting and Remembering,

 

the sculpture that always

creeps me out

with its zeal for macabre

and affluence

less than 100 yards

from the power plant

harnessing Middle Falls.  

 

Looking at it is a shame

this city has in common

with so many of our cities.

When the rise falls,

those atop the

newly anointed

golden hill

address the bygone

tarnished treasure

with all the myopia of

"Just say no,"

and "Not me, not now." 

 

But I've come to learn

about the artist,

her impetus,

and the piece. 

It suits in attempt

and expression,

and her heart and vista

are far

from macabre,

let alone affluence,

and my "golden hill"

inference

is insulting

from a myopic perspective

my pampered ass

could never fathom. 

It embarrasses me that

it creeps me out. 

It makes me think

about

me.

 

But they got the trail right. 

Spot on. 

Ripley and I love it,

and it serves well

our latent

progression.

It's nice to catch up

with Europe

now and again.

 

A Union training camp

once cadenced this gorge,

this silent

Phanerozoic

phenomenon

beckoning

grand mysteries

we'll forever catapult

our ponderings toward,

fast and lofty

to the bowels of Almighty,

or some other eternal

unfathomable.

 

Quite recently prior,

at the very same location,

we were shipping

the very most fortunate

African Americans

ever

to Canada. 

To the glory of all

humanity's legacy,

yes,

we did.

 

It was among the greatest

emigration opportunities

ever afforded. 

Think about what we've

saved them

ever since

by getting them out of here.

Really,

you could call it

an exodus,

The Rochester, NY

Exodus.

Now there's a story

America never talks about.

 

We don't discuss it

for the same reasons

we don't discuss

the Native American

genocide

or the Philippines

or Hawaii

or the atom bomb.

That's a shame. 

It was a best

afforded by our best.

It doesn't belong with

the genocide

or the Philippines

or Hawaii

or Hiroshima,

 

and the trouble is humility.

We don't have it.

As a nation among nations,

we do not.

It's a problem

and we refuse

to solve it.

 

But I digress, and that's okay.

If the gorge could talk,

it would digress too,

maybe even

stretch and sigh,

and God willing,

endear and regard,

if only for a moment,

and pitch a lesson

best served with

humility.

 

What's to lose? 

 

Arrogance beckons

the address of any lesson,

and arrogance is abound

to me

and my beagle

and the careful gophers

and the lost

fox.

Only arrogance

could've invented

this.

 

But our grand American band

will play on

so…

 

Seth Green was here. 

Frederick Douglass

must have been here,

at least in conspiracy,

if not physically. 

 

Wait. 

 

He was definitely here.

This spot was also quite

cosmopolitan. 

Susan B. Anthony

was here

for the same reason

if not for every reason

we could conclude

she was here.

 

I could go on and on

trying to extrapolate

to muse

what a gorge knows.

Really?  Why am I here?

Susan B. Anthony?

Please.

 

I'd love to know

what the

Native Americans

did

here. 

A sign alludes to it.

It's a solid government

sign

with a hearty paint job

and finish.

Best gesture we ever

tossed their story:

timeless iron

telling little.

 

Salute!

 

The American Exceptionalist

should stand

here.

Then again,

he does every day

he chooses.

He's probably me,

now. 

 

Ouch.

 

Back to higher thinking. 

Lotsa luck

says The Gorge.

 

A beagle's nose knows

the fox and the groundhog

with all the same cupidity

it finds a

McGriddle wrapper

or a

Little Caesars pizza box.

She and I are

brethren. 

We know no less,

no more.

 

She's as confused as I am,

confused as the fox.

Our bewilderment

farts in the wind,

same as the subsidized

mansions

glaring from every avenue

across Lake Avenue. 

What's best to do here?

 

The mansions want yesterday.

The trail wants tomorrow.

The roses bloom longingly

for both.

 

Yes, the roses. 

They're beautiful.

We've never abandoned

The Maplewood Rose Garden.

I'm not sure what that means,

but thanks be to that. 

 

Thus so little

is exceptional 

in this equation.

 

The denominators

are failures,

flawed, contaminated

collaterals

betwixt in ideas

and politics

and economies

and circumstance

and indifferent

evolution.

 

The gorge was here

long before

Boom Town

boomed.

It will be here

long after

the "monkey tricks"

of us mammals,

 

long after

our "dinosauria"

is bequeathed,

should it be

to something

similar.

 

And the bequeathed

should testament

something,

anything

that could conceivably

matter

more to an intelligence,

more to a glacier's decree,

more to a steel bridge

sprayed with

"Dump Trump,"

and "Kiannas a whore,"

 

more than the archaic

rubble

of flour mills,

more than photos of

circa men

staring at the same falls,

 

more than a power plant

shackling

mother of earth's mule

to provide heat

and electricity

to a society

in want

and need

of more

and more

and more.

 

A best.

It must be some

conceivable best

as it matters to

it,

to they,

to them.

 

Sincerely,

If it were the way

of the glen,

it would've portended

by now,

so we're on our own.

 

We did big once before.

Even on a glen's level,

we did big.

 

We did so big

we have nothing to prove

to a humble world

let alone our arrogant

nation. 

 

This is us. 

This is our time.

The time was yesterday,

and today,

and will be tomorrow. 

So,

no

pressure,

but we need indeed need

plant

propose

and once again

impose

a greater good.

 

We need advent,

we need indeed

some simple seed,

even a hapless one,

an error even

to a renaissance

as all our

elected

collected

staked and

economically

associated

endeavors

have landed us here

again

in hypodermic needles

and literal human turds

and desperate

filthy

sex

and fast food wrappers

and pizza boxes

and beautiful, manicured

loved and pampered

and subsidized

roses

posing

daring

insisting

founded and

beautiful

love

to the Almighty

cliffs

of a graced

rocky

owl

that will live

forever.

 

My beagle bays.

The water

falls.

It echoes.

 

A glacier's decree

yawns.

 

Insert yodel here,

dear Rochester.

 

A better country

longs.

A city awaits.

 

Our cry

demands.

 

 

 

 

 

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