Saturday, January 14, 2012

North / South

The tortured air swarms with murder.
If you go south to live, take gun and knife.
The Cuetzalan machete’s blade is dull,
hanging on the wall with mask, chicken foot,
and aging photos from New Orleans.

Her teacher told Cathleen, Again you find
yourself living in Indian country:
Pay heed! She smiles. Such advice from a friend
in New Mexico, our Massachusetts
sanctuary, we didn’t want to move
to Minnesota. We came for money
to pay our bills in old age, and found here
Red Lake, in whose St. Mary’s Mission Church
we make music for mass. To the Irish
priest Patrick Sullivan I confess love
for more-than-holy Oscar Romero
(killed by assassins moving through the line
of poor people taking the sacrament
and even God could not save their Father),
and sacred-among-poets Ernesto
Cardenal (denounced by the last, dead pope,
but vows there is greater work to be done
than giving communion, and the new pope
is like the old). Cathleen’s father was named
for the Irish martyr Robert Emmett,
and Father Sullivan likes to comment
on St. Patrick’s Day how the Ojibwe
and Irish must have a lot in common
with their shared disdain for being kept down,
then he mourns the death of so many young
in Red Lake, whose old also die too soon,
and in Bemidji store clerks follow them
with their hooded eyes, self-appointed hawks
like the law’s wide wings that provide shelter
by filling local cells with savages–

ay! Dios mio, where are You now life
is more fragile: Why not make Mejico
a little safer, give a good night’s sleep
to the denizens of New Orleans:
Paz a los pueblos de las americas!

(14 January 2012)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander

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