When the heat drops from the sun and needs no gravity to land hard and bounces off the hood of your old Volvo the way holy thoughts are rejected by the hard shell of science
When prairie fire swings its hot arms into your fields and sings its falsetto into your sky and your house, your dog, your cigars and your lemonade just stand there in the path of heat's widening circle
When heat crouches low, a heavy, pregnant beast full of destruction, and crawls up the road, softening the hardest blacktop, scorching the sideweeds, scratching stretch marks behind its wide berth,
slithers up your body and spills down your throat
When heat does this, get your ass to Syracuse.
Think about Rt. 44 in South Dakota, how heat's ugly dogs will run into your car, pop your radiator, blow into your engine, and leak their dry cracks all over your leather interior.
And when sky falls down in April thirty drops at a time all over your
freshly washed bicycle, think about the lopsided sky over Phoenix, all
sun and glare and spilling sunburns, no
rain, no water,
Heat can bake your pie,
Copyright 1994, BJ Ward. Originally published in Landing in New Jersey with Soft Hands (North Atlantic Books).
BJ Ward is the author of three volumes of poetry, most recently Gravedigger's Birthday (2002). His work has appeared in publications such as Poetry, TriQuarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly, The New York Times, Puerto Del Sol, Mid-American Review, and Long Shot. He is the recipient of Poetry Fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts and the Alliance for Arts Education in New Jersey, and has been awarded two residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. In the summer of 2002 he joined the resident faculty at the Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire. He earned a MA from Syracuse University. He currently lives in northwestern New Jersey where he directs the Warren County Poetry Festival.