Micah Bateman


Milky Way (for Rebecca), Palm Springs, CA 2015 | Lindsay Hutchens

Grow Lights

Does ether even vibrate into song? Can vision
Prove distance, can someone witness grackles

Vanish in the troposphere like cats into a bush?
Whether bush is layer upon the dimensional image or object

Plopped upon the proper plane where we negotiate
Our sense of getting to a place—

Rendered in the mind as lard in brining water
Whose fats, as pasts in amber, capture energy in mass—

Tragedy of the material fact, the objective exchange
By which we are transacted, we want to say, as light across a transom—

But the squat body resists.
Like fungi from a moss, umbrellas sprout in rain.

Those who move about the sidewalk counter weather as they must
To go about their business in the city. Recess moved inside,

My daughter tells me. Her school gym’s lights flickered
In the thunder as the teachers gasped. They assign

Each child a tile whereon to sit—a kindergrid
Fostered under grow lights as illicit

As those in indoor marijuana farms flung
Across the reaches of our sparser states.

I imagine her with lamp burn
So I switch mine in my cubicle as a vicarious solution

To one that emits UV rays and elicits dopamine consistently
Across seasons, thus I’m doing better

About feeling better about her well-being.
Other bodies out the window dart for cars.

One’s so corpulent it can’t help but slip and topple
In its too-long weighted strides and without

The energy to rise the soaking of it pastes its clothes
Too close to describe, and no one helps.

The weather smells like ozone as I rush to lift the body up
That fell, the woman flushed with effort’s mark

Of rising quicker than her neighbors’ noticing.
Blood’s a tell. When my wife was giving birth

Her whole body plunged into magenta shades, then pale
As the woman on our sidewalk’s fleshy parts

Where blood must work too hard to travel to.
My chin’s sagged under in so many years

And parts of me won’t warm when others do
But still am mobile as is proper for an age

When subways colonize the underfoot and parking lots
Abut the stripmalls of our thoroughfares

Where vendors advertise our sins’
Forgivenesses: tanning salons, lipo clinics, gastric bypass physicians.

Why is light more privileged than our mass? Light’s not ether, either—
Too exacting calculus by which ratios

Of objects to space approach zero
Or the song’s too thick to swallow but what’s song

Without its marrow, silence? Naught is all.
But notes? To make the voice bodiless: to angelize—

How weightless is the halo in its brass’s hovering density
That hums above the head. But what’s to give a song a mass?

Phone lines score the sky after rain whereon grackles perch like notes
Off whose oily sheen one gleans light as from choreography

Dance. An artist plays them in a key
I.e. sees bodies as the notes and music’s rendered

As from a cast of moving bodies’ synchrony ballet.
The cat’s eye penetrates the bush. The grackles twitch.

My daughter tilts her telescope toward space but sees only
Stasis; thus the captured tonal print of interstellar waves

By Voyager 1 which hears the sun as noise it converts
Into measurements of distance, weight, and density

Is truer witness to the galaxy. Movement is the thing
That ether stops. Anesthetic’s opposite is song:

The sun over the city as its bodies plod along.
Music is the movement of the thing. But a body could be wrong.




Micah Bateman is the author of a chapbook, Polis, recently released by The Catenary Press. His poems have been anthologized in: New Poetry from the Midwest and Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics, and they have appeared in publications including Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, and Verse. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has received the Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poetry Award. He lives in Austin, where he studies Whitman and edits petripress.org

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