Nebraska 32: ‘A Stratagem’ by Michael Anania

(after Ehrich Weiss)

I

Geography matters.
It is the plan,
the arrangement of things
that confuses our enemies,
the difference between what
they expect and what they get;
as simple as bobbing for apples
becomes difficult, deception is
an achievement in ordering the obvious.

II

Let us make a song
for our confusion:
Call it “Red Skies over Gary”
or “Red Skies in the Sunset”
or “Red Skies and the Open Hearth.”

Red Skies over Gary,
you are my sunset,
my only home.

Let us make ourselves invisible,
not make songs, or even
disappear suddenly from
the sidewalks of Calumet.

III

Cobalt and carborundum
are refinements of the art.

So it’s true, you held
the razor in your teeth,
or was it pure magic,
a miracle of place?
One makes for workability,
the other for hardness,
and chromium bright,
the stainless achievement.

IV

I came from Calumet to Gary,
and it was early evening;
south of the mills, poppy fields
toxic red above the car lots,
have a Coke on Texaco
’til the mercury arcs devour us
and it is purple night.

Michael Anania, “A Stratagem” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Michael Anania.

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