How can a senator not be a working man?
Can he work for the people to fulfill,
without working hands, that which the
farm hands demand? Oh he must be a man
of men, a man of many. Who else can he be?
No the senator is a working man.
Yet something in his tone makes me laugh.
Forgive me if he is beloved, I, an iconoclast,
should know where he is from. His father
was the son of a son of some great other son.
He has never worked in anything less than a tie,
and won’t give but the best to his foreign bride.
Oh now I’m sure he is a working man, but a different
type of work, with smoother ale and hands.
The moon, with its crescent hook dangling above us
catches my absent gaze. Yes, that is it, a hook
in an eye. A hook to pull my eyes so that I look
on open waters. We were once fisherman,
and caught big catches, with rainbow gils
and thin long whiskers. It was beautiful,
when hooks and nets were casts
and the oceans teemed with life ready
to wrestle with our god-like hooks.
All fish prey the same way and a frenzy
is a revival. Come out on the water,
and cast your nets alongside mine.
We will cook and eat and pray at noon,
and at nightfall admire a crescent moon.
I hear demolition in the city and it forces me
to think of a donkey dawdling down waving streets
in summer, with its passenger along side him.
His face is timeless, inestimable how many times
he’s walked this road. He is manila with cement mixer
or dove hair. A rosary hangs like shingles in the storm from
wrists that sit above rough hands. His eyes are dark
and innocent. He looks through me at the road ahead.
He is immutable.
Oh I’ll find my place with the working man,
I’ll build my home with my own two hand
in the USA! Oh yes in the USA!
Give me few dollars and a couple cents
I’ll find a nice wife and a picket fence
in the USA! Yeah I’m in the USA!
Send me to fight in your defense
I’ll give my life as recompense
for the USA! I’m for the USA!
Just lend me a helping hand
bring me to the promise land!
I love the USA! I love the USA!
The song rumbles like Laredo and echoes
to Cologne. Pay close attention to the demolition
and listen for him droning:
I’m on my way to the USA
left my life to join the great
On the way to USA!
I hope it’s what they say!
There is a mix of knees and hands on asphalt,
grey sidewalks, and front steps. Show me your hands,
stained icebergs that will not recede without being scratched
and picking up some small pebble in its recession.
You will not recede without scars. You will not back down.
You will resist when they tell you to stop moving. And then,
with sudden tear of a curtain and thunder without lightening
you will stop resisting. Stop moving. Show me your hands.
The iceberg melts despite its temperature dropping. They rip
you from your shirt, like David. Made you look mad. Stripped,
The mix is settled and I see it clearer now.
Your stigmata and water in the streets.
60 Seconds On The Line
0-1 sec: Indiscernible
3.0 sec: Yelling help, no, stop, help
7.3 sec: Yelling: hands (indiscernible)
9.4 sec: Sounds officer needs assistance, yelling help
12.1sec: Yells, maybe why’re you doing this
15-17 sec: Scream
19.1 sec: Scream ends
20.8 sec: Don’t know who’s talking, stay down help please stop why
26.3 sec: Yells something, maybe suspect officer needs assistance
28.2 sec: Arriving on scene
37.6 sec: Yells something, sounds like let go
45.4 sec: Scream
47.2 sec: Yells, grunting, sounds like stay still
50.7 sec: 3 gunshots
54.5 sec: Gunshot
54.8 sec: Yell, help oh my God help
57.2 sec: Yells, someone help
57.8 sec: Sounds like the words got you
59.3 sec: Officer on the radio, shots fired, send medical
59.8 sec: Yells
Call Terminated: 59.9 Seconds
We measure our life in half empty beakers
and drain pipets of our worth into deep, awaiting
test tubes. Like Jesus, a weightless insect, oil
on water we float atop the plains of unending and uprising
seas; we are holy, disgusting, and dangerous.
It stirs below us. Whirlpools drain us to their depths.
Riptides drag us to their conclusions. And yet we float.
And yet there are those of full glasses, who drink
sea water, in hopes to go mad. Those who turn their heads
and grin at a cave-sentenced puppeteer. They do not fall next
behind Alexander in the line of students, but they are greater
than Glaucon. They elucidate life with nothing more than glowing
eyes. Look you learned man who cannot live! Erudite starver!
How noble is a noble when compared to this carver?
I’ve never felt this latino.
Rummaging through my basement,
without cause. There are two sombreros.
Two ornate bongos that my daddy used
to play. There is a Corona poster on the wall,
next to a lei and an old metal folding chair.
The poster has a Mexican flag on it.
We are not Mexican. A few feet away,
draped over old Mustang car seats, is
a Puerto Rican flag, with a coqui sprawled
lazily across the fading banner. It is old.
Its fringes fray and its folds have lost their
crispness. There is a superman comic book
hung crooked in a gilded frame. And just
to the right of my flag is a thick poster board,
with a mansion and a helicopter and a Florida
waterfront printed. Beneath the show of wealth
a scribe had etched, in large Times New Roman,
“This is all I want.”
I think of the flag, and the poster, and the bongos
as my dad sings:
Que bonita bandera,
Que bonita bandera
Que bonita bandera,
La Bandera Puertorriqueña.
My confused tongue does not sing,
and I’ve never been so frayed.