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
(See the blood pouring down the steps
Of the Pyramid of the Sun.)
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