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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 88

Death, Sleep, and the Traveler


What’s important--
the turquoise waters, white sands
and cool shade of palms
in the Turks and Caicos
watches behind glass
at the Madison Avenue Cartier’s
the white dog
on the RCA Victor logo
the silence of strangers

What’s important--
Olive Thomas
Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon
on la Grande Jatte
Paul Klee’s red and brown
squares, Kierkegaard
the New York Times
an emergency room
a candle
flame illuminating
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
the Monroe calendar
Dad tacked on knotty pine
behind the rumpus room bar
the year you were born

People leave us.
Till then
we don’t appreciate them
Says who? The jay
in the magnolia,
the pompadoured televangelist.

I wish I could have taken you
to Faulkner’s grave,
and on the Caracas cable car
and last year
to the ocean
at Saint Kitts,
playground of the dead.

Dead friend,
I have read
Fanon, Milton, Baldwin
and Kierkegaard. I know the score.
And what I know is murky,
like brown river water.

I have seen, on a brick wall
outside cloisters, the words
We rise in anger and love.
What’s important
is being part of
love’s silence,
its many rivers
and one sky.


My mother’s uncle
Martin lived in a white building on a green hill.
You’d walk down two steps
into his living room. I saw him
in the coffin. His widow
loved him even after he died.
Then she died, then her sister,
then my mother, on and on--
He had what I wanted,
that sunken space to recline in.

  Peter Mladinic