PoetryIssue 20 | May 2014

Two Poems by Bernard Henrie

A Small Town with no Flag

Mezcal Del Maguey Chichicapa
is one dirt road farther than the day laborers from Oaxaca.

Coconut farmers live there, hands and clothes carry the scent
of bath soap.

The men are brown as beans. Washing under outdoor pumps
their bellies are plump and white.

We play dominoes under the shade of my copal tree
and share the Mezcal of the city.

When they sleep on the Day of the Dead they awake refreshed
and disappointed.

Women walk single file the way women once followed behind
ancient horsemen.

In my clinic, they point on a doll to the places they hurt.
When they don’t want me, they speak Mayan.

When they nurse, their breasts fall as sweet potatoes
from a basket. They carry barley corn in their pockets.

Children run after the red pullets. They ride a stuttering
burrow who circles the plaza as though trying to remember.

Older girls stay with one another, long chestnut arms,
I imagine their pupils set with deep purple iris.

Young men gamble with their deaf beauty. Turkeys come
to them, stars whiten.

Skinned animals hang in the market, small goats chew,
their bobbed tails twirl.

Dried stigmas from the saffron crocus stiffen on pages
of newsprint.

Night rises from the arroyo north of the city and turns
my house black.

I read under the hurricane lamp. The crickets move close,
the eyes of the yellow dog are open in a waking trance.

The town cannot afford a bright moon. Shooting stars
are clean as bells, voyaging planets slide close.

You cannot write them, there is no post office.
It is too far for the bus to come.

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About the author

Henrie says he finds extra travel money by repairing, but not replacing his thirty-five-miles-to-the-gallon Honda Civic. His first trip was to North Africa, just after Algeria gained independence from France; and that experience made him aware of a political world larger than American Democrats and Republicans.
Ever since, he has combined politics and the literary. You can read his work at Asian Cha or Blackbox Manifold.

Read our current issue:

Poetry

Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok