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.


El Mozote


                                    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.



                                    Midsummer Night


                        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.