Little green trinities—at home between
sky and sod, a canny family resemblance,
a truly inside job—a common life far beyond
broad oceans of guilt and sad regret—not these
worthless plastic hats and opaque glasses,
not these banners from forgotten holidays
spent over Hell’s Ditch and the moon—not
the smoking remnants of a blasted Friday
from dark in 1972—not me, not you, not at all
this weight of black hilarity behind us—only
a lilt of dawn light over the rise, and a breeze
that moves with or without purpose, and that
sweeps the quiet field of the many and the one.
Che Guevara’s Hands
Do you remember the day, late last
century, when after awful labor they
disturbed his dry, earthen bones
and raised them from a hole beneath
the dirt airstrip—that dank conduit,
that sad projection of rotten power,
there at Vallegrande? As it had been
reported, the body had no hands.
This was of course the missing piece,
the key last confirmation of just
where and how he who had done
his dirty best to correct history
had been questioned, slapped,
questioned, kicked, questioned, shot,
then tied to the skids of an army
helicopter and spirited away over
the jungle in the middle of the day,
seen off by scores of jeering soldiers.
No official needed anything but
his fingerprints for identification.
But for the cameras, they leaned
over his stiff, half-naked corpse,
as cigarette smoke and laughter
ringed its matted hair. The people
said dead Che looked like the Savior,
and maybe some thought along
such lines for years. But by then
the formalities were over. The news
walked away and it was done—so
businesslike and efficient—the black
latex bag zipped and clipped—a date
and a name, and then dropped deep
into a briefcase bound, we thought,
for Washington. And that was the last
we saw of them. All that we had left
were the black and white recollections—
suave, grand gestures, a partial record
on film and in photos, a strange flash
in time when, from nowhere, nothing
seemed to escape Che’s grasping hands.
In the night, sometimes for my crimes
I feel his grip against my throat, and I
back-pedal into the dark where I am
also destined to be lost. Other nights,
he brushes my shoulder, and with his
right hand points out a flock of white
birds as they rise into a star-decked sky,
calm and free as any we believe to be.
Smoke and stars, green
leaves and brown
difficult to separate
the past from
portents, torture rooms
from open skies.
And the time grows large between us.
Ways of Men
If this chicken won’t at last convince you
that today you require a ripe avocado,
then there’s nothing I can suggest but
this dream blue Cadillac El Dorado
that arrives the instant when we conjure
then dismiss what we desire. And still
this earthly view of paradise is something
that requires space and frame—an idea,
then action, frantic notes made in a book.
This makes us sweat and shovel, since
that is what we do with things. We laugh
then listen, erase and write it over. Take
this again, my brother, may it serve you well.