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The heads of streetlamps
are full of moth debris
when they’re brought in for scrap.
Sometimes their glass bowls harbor
a burnt-up bird’s nest.
Men extract the copper wires, metal screws,
and aluminum sheathing,
then sort it into bins
and sell it to the Metal Market.
Luminaires have a fund of vapor
that decreases over time.
They spend their last evenings
randomly lighting up
and flickering off to sleep.
Utility workers search after dark
when failing lamps are conspicuous.
When you approach an expired lamp
the bulb lights up
as if activated by a presence.
They sense darkness, not motion.
Before their bodies become salvage
they are sensitive to something more,
and they acknowledge it.
The City of Fremont Streets Department
You may never catch the union men unrolling
bundles of snow fence, pounding stakes,
and fastening wire ties, but you see
their arrangements lined up in schoolyards.
You’d have to wear an orange vest
for a year to discern the plugged-up basins,
faded arrows in intersections, and leaning
road signs. It all becomes conspicuous
the way typos leap out at an editor,
or the way secret codes in newspapers
glisten before the eyes of schizophrenics,
except these ciphers are real:
the dark half of a block where a streetlamp
failed to light up is haunted by men ascending
in a cherry picker, and the absence of men
who built the snow fence is a presence, just as much.
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