The Nino de Atocha statue
in the front persona of the house
floats on a cloud of marijuana smoke,
the heavenly white base chipped,
pocked grey from neglect.
They murdered the pine trees.
Not even on their property.
Drunk Uncle pruned them,
so the birds wouldn’t crap
on their five non-garaged cars
until they looked like
eight asparagus spears in a row,
branches tragically amputated,
trees leaning like the guest who staggered out
the side of their house once during a party.
That’s how you kill a tree.
Two late winter pines began to keel,
so they hired Mexicans from Jackson Heights,
the cheapest labor they could find,
and cut all eight down.
And left them there,
behind the fence,
a dam, embedded now with barbed wire,
for crepuscular vespertine, and nocturnal
wildlife kin to dodge,
like homo sapien sapien would
with land mines.
They shot the trees.
The landscape has teeth missing.
It’s the back of what looks like
a grey metal airport hangar now.
Property value down by 10 K for everybody,
for yard-turned-car parking garage convenience.
Pocahontas’ Grandmother Willow would tell them
to follow their paths straight to hell.
The smell of skunk herb
wafts into and around my homestead-
aging-out MC Stoner Boy is still in his mother’s attic
mixing, bass boost rattling adjacent houses.
There is no escape. Incessant, deep thuds
marinate brain stems
for years. The quiet neighbor
on the other side
is very old and sick. Says nothing.
Maybe he knows that
when the shadow is ignored
and inflates the group- little neighbor mob-
it’s like trying to talk the finer points of
to a lobotomized Frances Farmer.
Drunk Uncle once pointed to his
left upper-arm tattoo in passing-
a cartoon-like, third world Christ Child with a halo,
in a deluded and desperate attempt
to proclaim what a good Christian he was.
Yet he and his 50 K-a-year car parking garage
and night-shift security worker acquaintances
grind shit-faced dancing
with Latinas they barely know.
Upon first acquaintance, Stoner Boy
once offered, “Hi! I’m Hispanic.”
I did not offer, “Nice to meet you! I’m Caucasian”,
as I don’t greet in that way. Ever.
I was so thrown.
The pine tree is considered sacred
in most world cultures.
It shelters birds, squirrels, chipmunks,
raccoons, opossums, porcupines-
it gives us pine nuts,
the most coveted and nutritious
evergreen seed in the world.
We decorate our homes, cabins,
baskets, generous with the cones,
hang them glitter-sprayed on Christmas trees,
or just hold them in our hands,
marveling at their sacred geometry,
at the beautiful gift Gaia has given.
I dreamt of three snakes last night.
Each got progressively bigger.
The last was swimming through
a central waterway on my property,
its circumference as big as a sewage pipe
that takes it all outside of your house.
It had little feet-fins in front, like primitive fish,
to help it walk- that’s how huge it was.
I am not called to roll a faux joint and tape it
to the mouth of Nino de Atocha,
or stuff their mailbox with so many packs
of rolling paper rendering it unusable;
I can hire artists from Brooklyn’s Bushwick,
bloody starving for cash in this pandemic,
just to embarrass them-
have them surreptitiously climb up at night
to paint a mural on the exposed hangar surface
of Drunk Uncle knocking back Corona after Corona-
once he left some dead cat on my front stoop
in a Corona beer box with no note in January –
one of his aging, baby-mamma sisters dutifully carries out
his beer bottles in huge blue bags,
slung over her back for recycling,
like a hunchback, labored Santa- that’s her job.
They can paint Stoner Boy, too,
savoring another blunt toke just huffed-
But despite unconsciousness, selfishness,
inconsideration, and lawbreaking in a flailing city-
the dream snakes announce that I am the one
heading for some transformation-
some big-ass transformation.
I need to breathe.
I need to move,
and live where trees lives matter.