Library, by Roberto Bolaño

Wreckage

Books I buy

Between the strange rains

And heat

Of 1992

Which I’ve already read

Or will never read

Books for my son to read

Lautaro’s library

Which will need to resist

Other rains

And other scorching heats

— Therefore, the edict is this:

Resist, my dear books, 

Cross thy days like medieval knights

And care for my son

In the years to come

 

 

(From Two Poems For Lautaro Bolaño)

The garage

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Take the staircase

up

fluorescent light flashing

concrete + steel loneliness

new stains

past the sleeping man

with no legs

up

out to dark city morning

cars speed on First Ave

headlights like lightning

sporadic pedestrians

wraiths in fog

a taxi idles in the alley

exhaust and headlights

city of skunk

I arrive at work

less human than yesterday

when I walk out that last time

on both legs

singing

the legless man will be gone

but not my car

vessel of freedom

I speed from the garage

to reclaim my life

the poet sleeps

NotebackAlways another page to fill; the size and shape of the page is inconsequential. I keep my pen in my hand and my hands on the steering wheel.

*

The poet sleeps

while driving

during live broadcasts

the poet dreams

of the future

with folded hands

cigarette dangling

no one speaks to the poet

fearing fire in his eyes

the poet takes note

as always

to return to sleep

deep as abandoned mines

and dream across

landscapes of horror and delight.

Gunman

tree

The gunman’s eyes

shined like his gun

bullets of sunlight

across shadow-expanses

of night.

Murder is hot and nameless

unlike the dead

who yearn for ground

like rain

seeping through history.

All minds affixed to

the poet’s

disappearance

as if it were a poem

in a book of poems

penned by false gods.

That sanity be kept (D. Thomas)

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That sanity be kept I sit at open windows,

Regard the sky, make unobtrusive comment on the moon,

Sit at open windows in my shirt,

And let the traffic pass, the signals shine,

The engines run, the brass bands keep in tune,

For sanity must be preserved.

 

Thinking of death, I sit and watch the park

Where children play in all their innocence,

And matrons, on the littered grass,

Absorb the daily sun.

 

The sweet suburban music from a hundred lawns

Comes softly to my ears. The mowers mow and mow.

 

I mark the couples walking arm in arm,

Observe their smiles,

Sweet invitations and inventions,

See them lend love illustration

By gesture and grimace.

I watch them curiously, detect beneath the laughs

What stands for grief, a vague bewilderment

At things not turning right.

 

I sit at open windows in my shirt,

Observe, like some Jehovah of the west,

What passes by, that sanity be kept.

— Dylan Thomas

 

I Will Return (Neruda)

Snow

Some other time, man, or woman, traveler,

later, when I am not alive,

look here, look for me

between stone and ocean,

in the light storming

through the foam.

Look here, look for me,

for here I will return, without saying a thing,

without voice, without mouth, pure,

here I will return to the churning

of the water, of

its unbroken heart,

here, I will be discovered and lost:

here, I will, perhaps, be stone and silence.

— Pablo Neruda

 

Another memory in algorithm

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I remember the smell of him alive
sweat and cologne
hair and a day’s work
in other words, the opposite of death.
I remember the smell of death
that overtook him
sour and aggressive — singular
devouring him inside-out.
Both scents linger
memories enforce them, time fades them
years accumulate
as do fragrances
but the dead are still dead — shadows
the living are measured against them.