the umbrella men are blooming in
the season of rain. they grow in the shade
like magic mushrooms, unlooked-for and uncultured.
they blossom like gunshot wounds
across the circulation of a city.
the umbrella men sprout tents, a commotion
of cauliflowers in a well-tended garden.
they neatly unpack their picnic baskets. in the night-cold
they ignite their hotpots. in the dreary morning they unfold
their ping-pong tables. in the heat of mid afternoon
they sunbathe on concrete islands.
the umbrella men are helping each other
with their homework. they are reciting
rote essays in a foreign tongue. after this is over
they will skew college quotas all over the west
with variants on one remarkable admissions essay
painted in neon over one city street.
the umbrella men have the resilience of smartphones
the smartest of whom last barely a day,
but their charging cables are hydra
in this many-headed metropolis they are always plugged into,
they pulsate with their openings and closings
and the thrill of their vanes,
for the occupation of an umbrella man
is shelter and shellacking both.
the umbrella men are blowing blank speech bubbles in the wind.
they are singing anthems from dead rockers and live lyricists
amidst the silence of the lamborghinis.
they are falling off the world stage head first
and the sea is wide, the sky is empty.
the umbrella men are sheltering their guards and jailers
in the penumbra of their smiles.
they hide their fear of a harsher gaze.
after all they are only reflectors and diffusers,
lampshades to direct and shape their own smouldering
where elsewhere the umbrella men are being burnt
in effigy by a billion people
each one a personal solar eclipse, a blot on a
the umbrella men are linking arms;
they raise their shield formation like Spartans, Athenians;
they have lived in the shade for too long to know the sun
the umbrella men are falling like parachutes,
like dandelion seeds;
they are turning in place like bamboo dragonflies;
each revolution a rising, the spinning of palms together –
the umbrella men are blown inside out
and borne away on the monsoon rain.
they gust and gasp as the wind crumples them;
they are higher than they planned for; they are flying through turbulence;
they are hanging from the gibbets of their
stretchers and runners; so fragrant and fleeting the harbouring of hope.
they swing from their own rope
in the sky which is peace which is also a door.
in the haze of this city we can pretend not to see them fall.