Monday, May 14, 2012


Three stories are happening at once:
the story that believes it’s made up, though it sounds true;
the story of the cities, the tale that was true;
and the one that does not know its name.
The first one is Bobby St. Clair’s,
the second belongs to the one who knew him and his friends,
and the third story is mine.

I am the beast of the field, he who came of age in the dirt
on my knees, on a wobbly ladder below the high-hanging fruit,
young in the canneries and warehouses of the valley
between the Rattlesnake and Horse Heaven Hills,
a rider of horses, companion of young Yakimas,
who spell their name with an "a" now after the "k,"
warriors turned athletes, players of games
teaching me what their fathers teach them: the games of the balls,
the oval one said to be made of pigskin, and the small round, hard one,
the first with its hundred-yard field, the other with its diamond shape.

The young beast goes among los mejicanos. Their gamecocks flutter
in his dreams, beaked knives flashing in sunshine pouring through
the dirty windows of barns where the owners and their sycophants
gamble money to make money when their birds kill the others.
My friend’s father, who raises cocks in his backyard, speaks no English,
I speak no Spanish, the language his son will teach children
until he’s as old as the beast who loves women, as he loves men.

Obama declares all lovers should marry if they wish.
The church and its legion of priests and claques rage with bleak venom..
There may be no peace within the Americas, neither above nor below
the bloody streets in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nogales,
Nuevo Laredo, border towns of mejico, los campos matarando.

What is to be done with this only story, which is like a three-headed monster?
Will I be too old to go on when Bobby’s body passes through the crematorium
and I only am left alone with Cathleen, his love of half a century
who refuses to allow her scars to mar her Black Irish beauty,
soothing her skin with the waters melted from the ice and snow
where she continues to live far from Mejico, between sun and wind
and there is no warmth, only the cold . . .

There is only one story worth the telling, for Juan at the winter solstice . . .
so said the poet on the island of Majorca. When I was younger than Bobby
I admired the Marquis Alfonso de Portago driving Formula Ones with abandon
around the tracks, through Europe’s streets, refusing to fear death: I would
rather be a dead lion than a live mouse . . . how I learned art is a lion’s game.

(10, 15 May 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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