Ryan G. Van Cleave




     After Dali's The Enigma of William Tell

A congregation of blackbirds like scarecrows returned finally to seed,

the night overtakes until there is little but the boastful atheist chomping


a hot dog, his own cardplaying future, Pablo Neruda’s second-best gato;

the secret police mutter and prowl like astrologers hot on the trail of


God-knows-what but they don’t surrender, so close to a truth that strokes

the yellow warning tape of the moment like a pendulum of wood on a grandfather


clock older than boxcars, lead mines, hand-lettered signs in diner windows

that read No Shoes, No Service.  In this amnesia of leather-fisted men,


barbed walls seem to sprout up like jukebox headaches, here one minute,

gone the next, and the boy who washes himself in a barrel of old rainwater


now turned the color of orange soda, he gushes helplessly about the Board

of Health inspection, how those bastards in white suits took his lover, his father,


everything he loves; as he talks, the just-started rain worsens and thirsty as he is,

the boy tries to catch some in cupped hands, but that’s when he notices the wad


of bills from his father’s wallet in his own pocket.  Water brags across his face and he bangs his head on the concrete floor like a piñata, hoping to uncover what he


really thinks about the oozing anger he sees in mirrors; cada puerco tiene su

sábado, he says, wishing he understood Spanish.  Wobbling drunk at the idea


of reprieve, he is unsure which way is down, a weathervane spinning wild

in the wind, rusting as he sleeps, his hosannas stolen quiet by the mouth of rain.


Copyright © 2004 Ryan G. Van Cleave.  All Rights Reserved.


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