Sunday, December 12, 2010


He would go back to the Thames,
or failing that the Seine,
even the Hudson
would be better than nowhere,
where the Mississippi flows
very little, pushing itelf along
like a coiled serpent inching
through the grass by the bank
of the great river DeSoto said
he had discovered, slitting throats
of infidels who dared object.
They could hardly wait to kill
what they could never understand.
Was it on the way back he lost

and was he the same, white skin
and all, by the Rio Grande . . .
He wanted only to understand.
Times were better than in Spain
or Italy then. He quoted Scripture
when he got in a tight place,
knife against his throat, hushed
anger in the room saying, Do it!
It was the river you made your own.
First you had to learn to swim,
then fish with your bare hands,
then hang from hooks all day,
all night, but that was over there,
they used rifles to defend themselves

and I take up my bowl
in downtown Los Angeles
and walk where I want to go,
my laptop covered with oilskin,
my shoes in sandals from the bin
behind Piggly Wiggly,
enough to make a saint throw up
just smelling what I’m wearing
and no woman in all the time
my feet have searched for love
in the Book’s origins, O where
do I go now and why do I go,
when once there were alternatives,
there was Isabel, there was a life,

scarred as it was, and on this day,
Sunday, she would have awoke
teasing my body into arousal’s
fountain welling up from earth’s
witching wand, and climbing on,
rocking and pushing her nipples
against mine, asking me to come
into her and make her a child
worthy of our anguish, her hips
were large enough for two boys,
she knew this was another poetry
we shared and why not get born
what was rightfully our legacy
after all I had endured, all she

wanted, and no, I said no, please
and called her darling and loved
her the same way as ever, my cock
withdrawing from her cunt before
I orgasm’d, and she knew why
now she would have to go back,
go home, try again what she knew
was her river, the one flowing under
Mexico City, the river that was lake
above, turbulence below a surface
Cortes navigated leading his men
across the causeways to bargain
with the man named Moctezuma
for what he had that was not there

and destroy what was there to own
for Spain everything the New World
promised and would surely give up
once the harquebus spit fire, horses
under spurs, mail clanking, bloody
cascade of bodies falling everywhere
he led them, and Tenochtitlan died
its quick, then slow, then final death,
Cortes choosing the wench Malinche
saying in a language she did not know,
You will give me Moctezuma’s spawn
and tame him to my body’s rhythms
and no one will stop me then. Then
after centuries there has been no end,

no beginning, nowhere in the river
the current returns upon itself. Whirlpool.
That’s why he loves this life of discovery
and follow the impossible where it goes,
and who knows? maybe it will take him
thousands of miles south of Los Angeles
to the city where his true life began,
his real death ended, not London, Paris,
or Vicksburg again. He has his riddle
for the day. The dark skin of Augustine
in the rosy brothels, mother Monica sad
as God’s tears, soothing her prodigal son
back to sleep, where he dreams he tells
everything to a voice that folds him in.

(12 December 2010)

copyright 2010 by Floyce Alexander

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