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Lukewarm Leadwater

by Nic Custer

Going to get a case of water,
we trudge past national news
cameras filming empty
brick streets and ripples
in the river.
Nearby neighbors a few feet away
ignored in favor of classic clichés.
We laugh when they feign
concern before signing off
and checking their phones
for something more Facebook familiar.

Tired, we welcome the interest but still cringe,
preferring to be lowkey to notorious.
Now I can half-appreciate being breaking news,
while well paid journalists
cover our latest
man-made disaster, demanding answers
while cautiously
staying miles away
in hotels off the interstate.
We both have agendas,
I want new pipes
and they need enough interviews
to skate swiftly over the issues
they’re lukewarm about in the first place.
When oversaturated America loses interest,
I’ll still be overwhelmed, losing faith in politicians.
Things seem so much more dire when people finally
acknowledge the two year struggle, using the faces of Flint
as 5 o’ clock fodder to fill gaps between commercial breaks
and the lotto. Imagine the power that comes from
being victimized by power. We can make someone in another state
feel like they’ve given back by donating a case of water.

And Flint feels the love,
but it’s not enough. And in the end its just
a butterfly Band-Aid landing on a stab wound,
a piece of lead painted gold and
called a college fund.

When we feel this earthquake’s effects,
our kids will be the tsunami
and no camera will still care to
capture it. The destruction will be devastating
and barely perceptible. We will be
left with the anger and resentment
that defines us now as residents, the resilience that keeps us
thinking about the future and filling the recycle bin.
Endangered by our environment,
but still here. Stubbornly digging in. Still here,
preparing for the next scandal to begin.

Nic Custer is the author of Nothing Works, Everyone Labors (2016) and
the recipient of an emerging poet fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.
World's Best Poems, p. 17

Lukewarm Leadwater

by Nic Custer
(Flint, Michigan, USA)

First Place: Wax Poetry and Art Poetry Contest #14
Originally Published in
Wax Poetry and Art, August 15, 2018
"Lukewarm Leadwater" by Nic Custer
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Wax Poetry and Art
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