It scratches against the itch and burn of the heat,

belt against blade, scratching one against the other,

against the sound of sleep, against the call of summer,

scratching against a small boy’s mind

in the call and wane of what he’s never understood,

of murderous mosquitoes, the sting of wetted baking soda

on what he’s scratched bloody,

of the questions, of the fears, of the hurts of the night,


of the pulse of tree frogs, of the bark of angry voices now silent,

of tree branches scratching dusty black screens

filtering slight breezes, the scent of running rain,

the intermittent odor of dead rat in dried spirea,

of a garbage can full of chewed cobs and naked chicken bones,

of newly cut grass, of trees, of sewers, of the neighborhood,

of the exhaust of cars, his own sweat, his own pain, his own fierceness,


of the sound of the fan going round and round

missing in regular irregularity,

its ca-chunka, ca-chunka, ca-chunka, ca-chunka

cutting air but not humidity, stirring the fever of the night

in all that was human,


of a few holy hours of humdrum space to the rote

of its constant scratching and drumming,

circling again and again through night and just before morning,

when he could finally drift into dream sleep hearing its wide blades,


the tree leaves, the worn belt of the old motor of worn ball bearings,

the sounds of painful words already spoken, throat sounds,

gut sounds, sounds of mourned loss, of the heart’s drum,

of the struggle of a fan handmade with leftover parts,

its rotations pounding between his ears, pounding

within the wide skull of the world