I Wish I was an American Lost in America

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Nogales is the song of a lost woman’s
eyes gazing at a point among the horizon
of abandoned churches, castles
within the cliffs, mirages of roads
that head to the border of a visceral
reality. There once was 6,200
notes in the song of Nogales,
some nights I dream I am one
myself, but at the same time it isn’t
myself. I mean, it’s a strange self
but I recognize it from other dreams.

But things aren’t always how they
sound, and I have to pretend
to be a deaf-mute to stop myself
from bursting into applauses of purple
thunder or dance across the desert
like it were an empty gym
for my tiptoes. Now and then I catch
a new note trying to scurry across the line
and I have to sit in sullen or timid
silence to cut off its spines.

There was no initiation ceremony
because everyone’s a stranger
dream; we exist on the other side
of each other’s fences. Or I find myself
falling asleep in front of the T.V.,
the house lie up by scorpions
glowing like a warm unknown.

Sometimes I wake up and think poetry
might be able to detect the future
I see: tornadoes, hurricanes, tidal
waves, fire; frying pans, plates, silver-
ware; brushing away crumbs,
unbolting the door, turning off the light.

Poetry might be able to turn
the proper nouns and verbs into a succession
of concret acts, an anatomical manual
scattered like cow skulls across the sun’s
corridor. There might be time for poetry,
but there’s also a time for fists; I’m digging
through each cavern looking for a reason for it
to be the former. I look to my lost lady
justice, forgetting she doesn’t
wear a blindfold, that I always find
her back to me, quietly laughing
in a voice of agua fria, quietly laughing
like the desert was a range of magnolias.

-C.S. Henderson

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