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Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Not till Abilene did the clouds break
that hid for three and a half hours

Florida and the Gulf, and the delta
I had once observed materialize
for thirty minutes from murk
and dying sea into the flesh of land.
The continent has shifted in unseen hues
beneath clouds that looked like snow
tracked by boot, bike and truck.
But now with the land rising
and the badlands unfamiliar with the dank
corpuscular white that quilts the heavens
above sea and farm, I see the pumice blues
whose mix with ochers and greys
make the desert plain.  And terrible.
Who could help imagine miner and outlaw,
migrant or soldier lost in such a place—
a patch of which from here could sink
hope and fortitude in the swirled dust
of riverbed or the cratered shell of lake.
Yet the land beckoned, and beckons.
Here and there the glint of some human
planting of steel, a rooftop or a carhood,
echoes the marches thirsty for gold
or the tribes who tamed the savage
residues of naked sun
and forged the intimate cistern.
Whether by shards of light, armied demarcations,
or the mounting poise of approaching city,
we are the beasts who do more than leave
our bones on the fiery earth.
And we alone can lower the blind upon it
as the clouds come gather again to shut
our sights and cool the urgent ground.

© by Ricardo Pau-Llosa


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