I’ve got all the nature I need, here in the city.
Blocks of green speckle its grid where parks and zoos
Nestle like pets, cosseted and car-ad pretty,
While vermin and weeds, too close to us for pity,
Adapt to every toxin we dare to use.
The one time I went, the Orchid Show was as hot
And human-humid as the subway. I had to leave.
In its crowd, each splayed plant dangled from a pot
As if petaling just to please us, which it was not.
Out where the traffic sang through the streets, I could breathe.
Crews plant trees now with a bark said to repel
Pollution, which I call progress since whatever
Kills them is plainly killing us as well.
Down my block, saplings stand yoked between parallel
Uprights, the better for breaking them to our weather.
I saw a hummingbird last week, which was weird:
A hovering emerald, exotic even for Queens.
Something like joy rayed through me, only to disappear
Since wherever its wing-blur belonged, it wasn’t here.
I try, but cannot not know what it meant. Means.
James McKee and his wife live in New York City, in a neighborhood where the 1% seldom go. A New Yorker by birth (and likely by death), he enjoys failing in his dogged attempts to keep pace with the unrelenting and impacted cultural onslaught of late-imperial Manhattan. After taking a degree in English & Philosophy, he held a number of ludicrously unsuitable jobs before spending over a decade as a teacher and administrator at a small special-needs high school. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Raintown Review, Saranac Review, The South Carolina Review, THINK, f(r)iction, The Worcester Review, The Lyric, and elsewhere. He currently works as a private tutor and spends his free time, when not writing or reading, traveling less than he would like and brooding more than he can help.