Poetics

xix

we trust strangers to give us directions. a man, happy to be of assistance, says: follow the man in the red shirt, don’t take corners if/when he does, you’ll see the great river, take the bridge, don’t take corners where the road does, don’t look into the river. you walk slightly ahead – the difference between directions and instructions. or tone and pace when the body is an altar. another way to say my restraint is to blame for everything.

at St. Luke’s Parish Gatina young men slit the throat of a much older man for sport. they smile at us and we have to smile back.

a man carries a flag, leading other men with flags, their women in white and red and green, dancing, their hair in scarves. so many churches. we share the stereo voices: you take the women, I take the men.

a woman serves us the deep-fried heads and necks and gizzards and feet of chicken. that they were once birds that much is obvious. we take in anything for the possibility of new images and sounds. the organs of birds are sexless, so we feed each other without using hands. and, anyway, we must not spend too much time on nomenclature. what you call naming. you are leaving soon and must replenish your archives for words beginning with j. for instance, the thinness of your neck, the pulse, and how your eyes stay sad when you laugh.

we walk down to the river, where men clean motorcycles in the dirty water. a child slings the head of a woman into the river. her wig comes off – one last act of resistance – before vanishing. to think the vanishing is the resistance.

currency men watch us from the small windows of bedrooms – you tell me they are collectors. or collectibles. after a long pause, what we have come to call I don’t know what to tell you, or indecision and blame, regret, you flip a coin: a fat and headless queen. the other side worn out into the smoothness of the tip of a penis.

and further up, or down, another river. unseen birds behind the thick of bamboo leaves. you’ve been wondering how long before I evoke leaves.

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