Nicaragua, Naturally                              


Lilies limn on their                                      

way to the dentist’s office where                                      

pulled teeth sing their own                                      

tune to winter and its cadaverous school buses.                                      


This theme may diverge over time.                                      

Similarly, unrelated themes that were once                                      

confluence can now only hope for convergence.                                      


After salting the cinderblock of                                      

friendship we claimed even God and his                                      

sledgehammer could not smash it.                                      


Those were titanic days.                                      





A Law of Inevitability


In our city of tomorrow, machines have malfunctioned

again. So much gone haywire and once more we ask:

why are the things we designed to play chess trying to kill us?

It happens: a quiet dinner, interrupted at the window

by a pair of eyes, red and pulsing. Will you be the homeowner

to welcome the murderous toaster oven inside?


Erstwhile, in a lesser age at the zoo, you lunge

into the monster pit to retrieve a pretty lady’s errant hat.

Soon enough, hirsute with shame, you find yourself

in a Komodo Dragon’s claws, and in its jaws you recollect

your wrongs. Hard as it is, you must acknowledge

the Earth and its axis of which you are no longer part.


Imagine a hunter, his ankle snared in his bear trap.

Even now, at the city limits, ostriches are neck-deep in sand

and the first of many meteorologists lay down before the monsoon.

Who claims catastrophe as a crèche? The guilty are always

alphabetized in time. Calamity, though it could have been

by any hand, it was most likely ours, more likely mine.





Capitals of Tin


What nocturne, what nickel exclamation, what wolfish kind

of worry creeps among the phantom limbs of this razed orchard?

Years ago we sent our many libraries here to repent

for what we had taken, but what was left didn’t want anything back.

The forest floor still a blanket of books. Let’s sit awhile and wait.

The wind has already sent its whips. We read from a favorite:

“You Caught Us in Capitals of Tin.”

In the passage selected, a bulldozer demolishes a shantytown.


Cardboard kept them insulated, but it was

steel and steam that prevailed, courtesy of

City Hall.


In that pluperfect present, thunder falls like a spool

of rusty chain from the sky to foretell the manner of the greedy

tailor’s fate, who called out each teacup by name before breaking it.

In the city presented, we find nothing but mannequins who haunt

their latest fashions with the endless grins of crossing guards.


They created chandeliers with such mouths

and through the plateglass you could imagine

their crystalline chattering in the idle hours of

the crosswalk.


I remember once while reading this we lost our way in a blizzard.

Only by setting fire to the pages we had already read did we finish the book.

The following morning we stood between embankments watching

women cross in burgundy rugs, their children who weed and hum.

The sun rose as was recommended in those days.

Corridors in the earth filled with the sound of saxifrage.


“Lonely, sturdy work,” she said. “It isn’t

like weeping but it is, not like Catalonia but

is. And yet no bird yet is bright enough to

burn—pitfall is our plumage.”


In the book the forgotten dollmaker has privacy, but his hatred

is preserved in the whittled eyes of his handiwork to remind

the protagonist what lonesome hardship was endured. The guilt

is unbelievable. Those who witness this scene can do nothing

to assuage their consciences but build orphanages for veterans

of the aristocracy. Row upon row of wrought iron cots, now cradled

with cobwebs, corrosive as this allegory, this dog-eared myth,

this no-man’s land, this largess, this talkative, electric forest flayed

with rust, scoured by coal. We drink the lissome light that rakes these ruins.


Such work was made to hurt. Their

wreckage so convincing it could only be

salvaged by backbone and shovel.


A sweeter literacy waits in a hidden room until our page number is announced.

There is a page number for each of us. Sometimes we share the same.


Is the sawhorse a pitiful sire to sit stock-still

in his room? Are we really but animals in

pantomime—turncoat and top hat and cane?


The full moon bore its cavities with blind pride, its fangs drooping in a foreign sea. Superstition was an opiate, a welcome fever, a relish of evergreen deceit by the end.

The final pages are missing and we’re left with this:


The Congo blimps arrived and their anchors

fell like anchors. In the crowd, before the

explosion, a potentiometer was quoted as

saying, “In principle, pleasure is pronounced.”


Funny little machine; it knew this better than anyone.