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The Blog Bog
The Mag Rack
In the Region of Ghosts
In the region of ghosts
tomorrow is a winter coat
draped carelessly upon a chair.
You pick it up to put it on
when suddenly it is gone,
a thin skein of mist left in its place
floating through the open
window to halt in air in a place
where your flesh
holds its memories, the child
struggling in his innocence, while
the leaf rake leans where you left it,
and yesterday's broken shoes
still lie near newly shinned boots
on the rug by the door.
The border is fixed,
but wavers in his sleep.
Lives move beyond it
like storm clouds above continents.
He dreams sometimes of his dark hands
sinking into soil, into blood.
He dreams of having no hands.
He dreams despite the cold
of the desert nights.
He lives a whole life in his sleep.
He visits his family back home, those
who scrabble each day in the hard dirt.
He sees his brother and his sister
who would no longer know him.
He sees his father and his mother
in their unfulfilled deaths that made them free.
He feels the form and weight of his
wife beside him.
He kisses his children goodnight.
The border is distant. He is patient.
Toward dawn, he closes his eyes and crosses over.
Step Right This Way: The Photographs of Edward J. Kelty
An exhibit at The International Center of Photography, 2002
I scoured those circus photos. forty or more.
Edward J. Kelty shot hundreds of performers,
in dozens of circuses, from the nineteen teens
to the nineteen forties: they included horses,
the late great original cowboy hero, Tom Mix;
a man named Agee, a human cannonball
bariing his chest and standing on his cannon;
elephants, lions, tigers, gorgeous autos,
not old timey then. but no black folk.
Of all the high wirers, animal tamers, ticket takers,
fancy tie wearers, plain tie wearers, and wearers
of razzledazzle epaulets; of cowgirls, clowns,
and dancing girls, there were two asian women,
among the white thighs, and one lone woman
who looked spanish, which may mean passing,
but no black folk.
one unbelievable mass photo stretching to a distance
has two hundred people looking up at a large view camera.
and one dark spot way in the rear.
in nineteen thirty six, new deal democrats funded a WPA
Circus, know that? at the very back of sixty circus folks,
four negro roustabouts.
Too bad negroes didn't like the circus more.
The Great American Dream Machine
The camera pans hills,
Spreading out softly,
Touched with brown,
Valleys and orchards
Rich under California sun,
Offering them to kike spic
Colored wop and mic
Sitting in darkened theaters
Off the gritty sidewalks
Of our own urban landscapes.
And Pancho says:
"Let's went, Cisco,"
They wheel around and went.
Do you remember the Cisco Kid
And his sidekick, Pancho
As they rode among California foothills
Saving the ranches, the women,
Of landgrant Spaniards,
(Never called Mexicans,)
From grasping crews of cowboy whitemen,
Protecting the older thieves from newer ones.
oh, Cisco, management goon,
despite the snazzy sombrero.
ooh, Pancho, peasant, don't kiss this man's ass.