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And the Gauchos Sing

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For Barry Silesky

Catalpas blooming up and down Catalpa Street, car alarms blooming
up and down Waveland Avenue—an instant of nature without the narrative.
O face-in-your-morning-juice, swimmer-in-an-old-wool-suit,
we sit side by side on the steps smoking the same cigarette,
watching children who live alone, women married to the wrong men.  

Here is your little dog roaming the alley. What will he do for love this time?
The gauchos sing: “The silver lights of stars hurl themselves
against the open pampas of Clark Street” O tomato-in-a-woman’s-palm,
one millisecond following the next millisecond, “Heal thyself,”
the poem says, “Pick up your beggar’s mat and walk.”

You hurl yourself into traffic. You talk to cops and street thugs;
they smile at their smartphones.  They strut in the sun like jackals
after a kill. And the gauchos sing: “Everyone will finally leave you, fugitive.”
A cloud of pigeons cuts through the smog. Everyone will finally leave you.

When the bus comes we sing like sailors. A red sky presses you to its lips.
I tell you that everything has already been written. You say
on a long, difficult pilgrimage Basho wrote on his hat.

Source: Poetry (June 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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And the Gauchos Sing

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