A Poem for You Right Now

An excerpt from “The Happy” by Ari Banias
(Who’ll be at the Festival in April!)

In a room more chicken coop than room,
I rent a fan that feels on my face like sound. Low traffic
from San Fernando, named for a king who
became a city, a valley, a saint.
We are meant to repeat his name. Instead
I say prickly pear, a cactus
which spreads its many-paddled hands
into the space around itself. No pears.

I grow a little stiff with, a little lean with, a little faint with, a little
worn with seeming.
I must need to conquer my mind.
The roses dead because of drought
because whoever lives here cares enough
to let their roses die. I must
need to conquer the notion
anything needs conquering.
Something in me can’t tell
what belongs. The ants
for whom anything is a street.
What sounded like a gate opening
was eucalyptus branches dragging themselves along the tin roof.
A yellow butterfly that has no interest in me.
I have no interest in kings.