Drop your hips when you punch
and when you block. In close
don’t forget the upper cut
Be quick as a heart attack
but don’t show all at once
Like a deadman’s hill on a back road
you don’t see until you are right up on it
I bet Jesus had an uppercut
Way he threw them money changers out the temple
You need something to back that up
Remember, drop your hips
After five years of working with Amnesty International writing
letters to foreign leaders asking for the release of political prisoners,
I finally got a response. It is from a general in Uruguay.
Reading the letter, I can see the general in his wood paneled office suite
In the old section of Montevideo. The balcony opens to the Isla de Flores.
His crisp dress shirt is open at the collar. It is the season of llamadas,
and the riotous sound of a neighborhood Candombe band drifts up through the open balcony doors.
He sits at his desk in front of a pile of papers. At his elbow,
A whisky decanter of Laphroaig scotch rests on a silver tray.
He is feeling generous, the music has made him so.
He picks a letter at random from the pile and decides to answer it.
He is not a bad man. Why do so many strangers around the world think otherwise?
It is dark in his office, but the balcony is sunny. He walks to the railing and looks down.
A street vendor is selling melons. She is striking in her flower print dress
As she carefully arranges her wares for the morning. She reminds him
Of his daughter, Francesca, away at college in Boston. She wants to be a journalist!
What puts such ideas in a young woman’s head? Does she listen to the lies
In the streets about the mistreatment of Tupamaros dissidents?
And what is a lie anyway except a truth that is stillborn and must be buried
To make way for the future. The woman in the street looks up at him and looks away.
He walks back to his desk, puts down his drink and picks up my letter.
Dear Mr. Brandis, he writes. Thank you for your concern about senor Mujica.
We are proud of our people. We treat everyone fairly.
The fish in the closet
Diamonds have become used to
No wonder the stadiums
are turning inside out
I wish to learn how to swallow
this morning blindness
The troops are sweating
the people for cover
Elisions, drought, moving vehicles
are all places to shoot from
Inside the souk you can still find
seeds and good company
draped in the scent of evening
under a widow’s garden of fossil light
Bargaining with god is what makes you sick
In the orchestra pit, everyone’s head tilting to the side
like cormorants, listening for what comes next
A beggar’s sign by the roadside: make me leave you alone
like how you feel
about dying alone
under a bedspread
of handwritten dark
these things get that way
because it’s better
to spread it on thick
than to run out
Like how King Saul
told David, if you want
to marry my daughter
you must bring me
the foreskins of one
& this was after
David killed Goliath
with a slingshot
made of goatskin
to do the impossible
because we fear
the inevitable is how
will turns into fate
Posted in poetry