LOCUSPOINT: Phoenix, August 31, 2008

Of the Valley of the Sun, I wrote, “Phoenix is an awkward commingling of the ancient and the new. Its name pays tribute to the way it was developed, built over (and using) a centuries-old canal system developed by the Hohokam people, who either vanished or abandoned their settlement there. But a sense of history like this isn’t pervasive. Since 2000 its population has increased by 24%, making it now the fifth largest city in the United States and the largest state capital. The city’s “historical neighborhoods” typically date back to the 1940s and 1950s, but Phoenix isn’t a city of short memory; it was (and is) built by transplants and transients.”

This edition of LOCUSPOINT was published on the cusp of the international recession that has affected the lives in every city LOCUSPOINT has published. But perhaps no city itself has been more deeply affected than Phoenix. A recent U. S. Census report showed that 227,696 homes in Phoenix currently sit empty–a vacancy equivalent to the population of Tucson, Arizona’s next largest city.

It may come as no surprise that of the Phoenix LOCUSPOINTers, four of us left the area since 2008. Those who remain continue their dedication to the poetry community, however.

Here’s one of my favorite poems from this edition: “November” by Meghan Brinson.

November

We sit in a room
and wait to discuss our results.

It is hard to understand
what has happened.

I look at the calendar
on the wall, the only thing
without a uterus on it.

It says November.
Simple. In big western block print.

Above all the squares
of dates
a colored photo of a chestnut horse
running in a green field,

his head turned back
towards me over his shoulder.

I see the bottom of his hooves,
his bent knees as his legs

move his body

further out of frame.

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