churned to agitation. We fastened a cloak round
the nape of nation. We have clustered to bear
the weather. 40 jewels for 50 thieves.

To spackle our sorrow in ochre,
to carve a sun from a carcass of grapes.
We will knead the wine’s mother.

We will sip her from a lake. Three
gold eyes above a trellis.
Three gold eyes bespeak.

            vine
            lattice
            midnight seed

A thousand eyes for 50 thieves.

Related Poems

The End of a Nation

---------------Marfa, Texas
30.3095 north

On July 2, 2018, my flight took me to Marfa, Texas—not my usual migratory route. Nevertheless, during my brief stay, I was able to meet swallows and sparrows, and I observed other exceptional migratory wings from Mexico. Some small-winged children were captured and separated from their parents and placed in internment camps along the border of Texas, US and Mexico. Who will translate their wings? Whenever my ears would let me, I looked up at the night skies in order to track Planet Nine. Being the compulsive translator that I am, I traced and traced the planet’s orbitary routes, its rotations of capture, torture, and massacre. The universe is such a dizzying place that my ears were spinning out of control. Planet Nine! Come in, Planet Nine!

The language of capture, torture, and massacre is difficult to decipher. It’s practically a foreign language. What a nightmare! But as a foreigner myself, I am able to detect the slightest flicker of palpitations and pain. Difficult syntax! It may show up as faint dots and lines, but they’re often blood, snow, and even dandruff. How do I know? Foreigners know. Ahn-Kim calmly narrated as she continued to circle and circle Planet Nine with her pen. Her circles were extraordinary.

I Want the Wide American Earth

Before the brave, before the proud builders and workers,
I say I want the wide American earth,
Its beautiful rivers and long valleys and fertile plains,
Its numberless hamlets and expanding towns and towering cities,
Its limitless frontiers, its probing intelligence,
For all the free.
                         Free men everywhere in my land—
This wide American earth—do not wander homeless,
And are not alone; friendship is our bread, love our air;
And we call each other comrade, each growing with the other,
Each a neighbor to the other, boundless in freedom.

I say I want the wide American earth....
I say to you defenders of  freedom, builders of peace,
I say to you democratic brothers, comrades of love:
Their judges lynch us, their police hunt us;
Their armies and navies and airmen terrorize us;
Their thugs and stoolies and murderers kill us;
They take away bread from our children;
They ravage our women;
They deny life to our elders.
                         But I say we have the truth
On our side, we have the future with us;
We are millions everywhere,
on seas and oceans and lands;
In air;
On water and all over this very earth.
We are millions working together.
We are building, creating, molding life.
We are shaping the shining structures of love.
We are everywhere, we are everywhere.
We are there when they sentence us to prison for telling the truth;
We are there when they conscript us to fight their wars;
We are there when they throw us in concentration camps;
We are there when they come at dawn with their guns.
We are there, we are there,
and we say to them:

“You cannot frighten us with your bombs and deaths;
You cannot drive us away from our land with your hate and disease;
You cannot starve us with your war programs and high prices;
You cannot command us with your nothing,
Because you are nothing but nothing;
You cannot put us all in your padded jails;
You cannot snatch the dawn of life from us!”

And we say to them:

“Remember, remember,
We shall no longer wear rags, eat stale bread, live in darkness;
We shall no longer kneel on our knees to your false gods;
We shall no longer beg you for a share of life.
Remember, remember,
O remember in the deepest midnight of your fear,
We shall emulate the wonder of our women,
The ringing laughter of our children,
The strength and manhood of our men
With a true and honest and powerful love!”

And we say to them:

“We are the creators of a flowering race!”

I say I want the wide American earth.
I say to you too, sharer of my delights and thoughts,
I say this deathless truth,
And more—
                         For look, watch, listen:
With a stroke of my hand I open the dawn of a new world,
Lift up the beautiful horizon of a new life;
All for you, comrade and my love.
                                                  See:
The magnificent towers of our future is afire with truth,
And growing with the fuel of the heart of my heart,
and unfolding and unfolding, and flowering and flowering
In the bright new sun of our world;
All for you, comrade and my wife.
                                                  And see:
I cry, I weep with joy,
And my tears are the tears of my people....

Before the brave, before the proud builders and workers,
I say I want the wide American earth
For all the free,
I want the wide American earth for my people,
I want my beautiful land.
I want it with my rippling strength and tenderness
Of love and light and truth
For all the free—

America

I

Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand
I saw a Banner in gladsome air—
Starry, like Berenice's Hair—
Afloat in broadened bravery there;
With undulating long-drawn flow,
As rolled Brazilian billows go
Voluminously o'er the Line.
The Land reposed in peace below;
   The children in their glee
Were folded to the exulting heart
   Of young Maternity.

II

Later, and it streamed in fight
   When tempest mingled with the fray,
And over the spear-point of the shaft
   I saw the ambiguous lightning play.
Valor with Valor strove, and died:
Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride;
And the lorn Mother speechless stood,
Pale at the fury of her brood.


III

Yet later, and the silk did wind
        Her fair cold for;
Little availed the shining shroud,
   Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm
A watcher looked upon her low, and said—
She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead.
   But in that sleep contortion showed
The terror of the vision there—
   A silent vision unavowed,
Revealing earth's foundation bare,
   And Gorgon in her hidden place.
It was a thing of fear to see
   So foul a dream upon so fair a face,
And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud.

IV

But from the trance she sudden broke—
The trance, or death into promoted life;
At her feet a shivered yoke,
And in her aspect turned to heaven
   No trace of passion or of strife—
A clear calm look. It spake of pain,
But such as purifies from stain—
Sharp pangs that never come again—
   And triumph repressed by knowledge meet,
Power delicate, and hope grown wise,
   And youth matured for age's seat—
Law on her brow and empire in her eyes.
   So she, with graver air and lifted flag;
While the shadow, chased by light,
Fled along the far-brawn height,
   And left her on the crag.