If I stand on the corner of Mell and Collie,

Gazing past the lines of heavy traffic,

I can easily distinguish the Tower of Babel

On the skyline.


Language destroys, but it can also create.


Tuesday morning finds me

On an entirely different cosmic plane,

Where Eliot and Williams

Are locked in eternal battle,

Like the dragon and phoenix of Chinese myth,

Circling the Pearl of Wisdom.


The car stereo broadcasts an entrancing mixture

Of Beiderbecke and voodoo

As a police chopper overhead

Drops pamphlets about the corrupting influence

That is William Blake

And gives the play-by-play of the sacrificing of Trotsky

In Teotihuacán,

(See the blood pouring down the steps

Of the Pyramid of the Sun.)


O Muse,

Have you betrayed me?

Why has your voice fallen silent?

Sing me a song

To ground my wandering mind

Before it escapes like a rebellious balloon

From the vicelike grip of a child’s hand.


Tied to the streetlight, half naked,

Lorca stands with his hands bound

Above his head,

His glistening body riddled with bullet holes.

Eyes closed in rapture or pain,

He sings the praises of Saint Sebastian

Before falling limp,

A muffled “mea culpa

Escaping his chapped lips.


Headstones line the churchyard.

For all its hope and rebuilding,

The Financial District

Remains hallowed ground.

Hands in my pockets,

My collar turned up,

The water laps against the Battery,

A Japanese painting in real time.

Looking out across the river,

I see her on her pedestal.

Even now, after all these years,

She continues to weep.

© Chester Sakamoto