John Street Watershed

In our basement, soaking mops, felt sops,
fans, and a useless shop-vac. The sump pump’s

conversation, all regurgitation
and monologue.

The old man down the street
tries to clear the storm drain again:

leaves, plastic flotsam, papery slops,
a condom, and one rubbery flip-flop.

Rain by gills, by gallons.
A boorish rain. A brutal rain.

200 drowned nightcrawlers on a sidewalk slab.
Prairie and Elm and Pine streets flooded.

They’ll add more culverts, pipes, retention ponds.
On a city map (hand-drawn, from the county

archives) farms and fields, a crooked line
branching eastward, cutting through pasture:

It shows a creek where John Street is now,
cattails, scouring rush, bluejoint grass,

and still, beside the creek,
a great blue heron with rain-slick feathers

and lifted beak, dour prophet, skewer
of blind, unwary shadows.