The Abandoned City Sequence
The Abandoned City
if we sit long enough, will our love grow wise?
the roman mottos tumble from facades & crash.
where statesmen argued the language of law,
cedars split paving stones & broken pillars crumble.
atop the giant boulder, a maple's single thick root
grips granite all the way to soil below, where
we stand amazed. lovers go to sing their love
hand in hand, passing a drunken cursing hulk
who pitches headlong toward a red-faced hooker—
she shrieks, pushing trash cans in his path,
her mouth a red circle of moaning terror.
O air pregnant with mouths opening like new petals,
O silence humming with coos & shrieks,
O rays revving cells in a single juniper needle!
Each Wound Became a Voodoo Mouth
breathing fire. the acquitted officer grinned—
hands that crippled a defenseless King
waved in departing. gunblasts & fire followed.
she could see the flames from her office window,
carried a pistol in her glove compartment.
Koreans opened their shop to looters,
praying it wouldn’t burn. King pled for calm.
white kids on 90210 partied on in the angst
of wealth: who’d get whom in the all-white
swimming pool? faces dripped blood,
scalps laid bare: fire—fire—
from the hold of the sinking slaver,
escaping slaves still dragging chains
broke free, no common language but anger—
their bonfires rose on the alien shore.
Abrams & Bosworth could not remember
those days when they took over
in Human Rights, at State. Amaya, hiding
in a tree, watched the soldiers kill
her children & put them to the torch.
in one house, the floor was blood-soaked,
most of the dead, children. “this . . .
could have led to the unravelling
of the US effort to promise a rapid
expansion of Salvador’s military forces.”
in La Joya, Lopez came home by night
to find his wife & 6 kids shot to death.
perhaps a thousand dead: Reagan certified
El Salvador’s “concerted efforts” for
human rights. refugees returned
to the abandoned town years later
to say Mass for the long-neglected dead.
Satie & Dante
in the silences between syllables, the path
behind us disappears; memories become other lives.
when the poet ascends into paradise, his carnal love
spirals into an ocean of light. what brought us
here? rock formations atop the volcano fade into
advancing columns of mist; a mad saint clings
to his perch on the path ahead, laughing, howling,
rolling wild eyes as we pass. he too grins in bones,
which rattle as he wails. we reach a point where
we no longer know where we’ve been, if love has
changed us: the day grows dark with light—
if we bring back stories of she who transformed us,
who will take the song for truth? such tones
evoke a presence dreamed & sown in tomorrow’s soil
to emerge as new blooms for another’s eyes.
thru vast yellow wheatfields & green corn stretching
beyond treelines at the horizon,
nuclear power lines hum in forcefields from
tower to tower—farmers herd cows
to the troughs as I pass, lost among distant
friends in crisis. the evening
breeze is soft, the light rich & yellow.
home, my children race among spruce
& pine, fairies in a midsummer night’s dream,
blessings in a sea of sadness. here,
someone’s put a door on the old grange house,
raised a frame for a room to be
attached, boarded windows that last week were
open to the careless winds.
rotted boards are piled by the road, where
two girls are walking hand in hand,
arms swinging, their smiles only for each other.
half moon above—already passions turn
like seasons—love, hold your shaky course.
The Lovers Sleep
all winter, the wind carries loam aloft from the stripped land;
the lovers sink further into sleep, the moon rises over
frozen furrows & lines of lights race across the vast prairie
where no man sings alone by his dying fire among constellations.
when stars fall, the caged shaman sings, his guards hearing only
silence. the millenium approaches in a raging human flood,
the swarming intellect polluting its own skull, cradle of dreams
where fields might blossom to meadows in singing silence.
the unruly master bangs away in the chest, summoning
blood & obedient hands to turn the wheel on which a sparrow
hangs & sings; tomorrow the shriveled finger points within.
so the lovers sleep, locked together beyond their spinning songs
in a dream where light rises to light continually.