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Alias City

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They were travelers, plotting river courses,
writing the genesis of unknown people,
fugitives with a revolver in one hand, reins in another,
merchants among the olive trees, euphorbias, mimosas,
emissaries, deserters. Some knew the native tongues;
they called themselves by new names
in the eastern twilight, different parts of their soul
never having learned to live together.
Skies burned. Dust covered the palms
and minarets as they arrived by the incandescent shore
of our city, each with his own little dreams and disasters.
Some remained, never to be heard of again.
Some left with caravans, wearing native dress — ephemerids.
Where are they? What are they used to?
The only preserved interview — concerning an artist and explorer.

Did he ever speak of his friends in X?
Never. The only thing he liked in X was his sister.
But did you know that he painted?
Oh yes! — some fine things: stemware,
a series of watercolors of shoebills and Abdim’s stork.

Source: Poetry (November 2015)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Poetry magazine

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Alias City

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