Memory Bodies


A blue 86 Volvo truck

carrying cinder blocks overturns
the cab bashed in

blood splattered on the hand-made road

stones set in sand

where the double-long-bus riders stand
& the mule with its long black spine

pulls a cartload of salted peanuts
& a farmer pushes his bicycle

loaded down with sacks of yellow

tobacco leaves.

On this corner of the world
the once-living are now memory bodies

carved into war monuments

hung by the neck

slung behind bars

& every house looks broken into only once


like a missing tooth

in the one-armed gypsy's gape
at each passing woman's arms,

as the widow

with black stockings sewn at the run,

as the teenage soldier
in skinny-belted drab fatigues

shining boots
with a page

from the news,

as the rare blond               

in jeans with ants on her cuffs.


Yet in the park, a woman appears

wearing a modest flower-print dress
and then, without warning, emerges a man

from the trees

just taking a stroll after a days factory grind,

his pants ironed

his hair washed & combed

& so casual

is the air of their meeting

as they sit on a bench

as they laugh in the shade.



Prelip, Yugoslavia




[Published in Prairie Falcon
© 1989 by Jim Cohn]



Prairie Falcon