James V. Cervantes
Nation As Null Set
The west is their frontier
and the east a frontier for the others. As they chew
up the continent, they pass each other, go right through
each other, and there's this tiny dinging sound of a ring
bouncing on tile, or a washer hitting cement, or a bullet casing
bouncing off rock, ding ding in the two wakes.
The situation makes it possible
to explicitly define the results of blind warring
on certain invisible people who would otherwise
not be definable. Sure, they grow flowers and raise pets
but when they attend a party alone there are
two empty rooms instead of one.
Each is the foundation for the other
via secret couplings in a place where neither lives
and where great sums of almost identical money
are exchanged. It would be against the common good
to hold it to the light. Only now do we see the wisdom
of the flowering of story, the histories of others.
from Mr. Bondo's Unshared Life
When Mr. Bondo awoke with his hair on fire,
he did the only thing he could do.
Having hung his drenched pajamas on a line,
he returned to find his bed unscathed,
no sign of frayed wires, no smoldering butts,
no ozone from a possible visitation.
Bondo meditated beneath his frizzy hair
until he was lost in the cobalt blue
of a mountain photo taken years ago, a puff
of white cloud to the right and above the peak
in late afternoon, when he'd forgotten the hours
following skittery paths, speaking out loud
to bushy, Kaibab squirrels, so frank and open
with their stares. He remembered the hour
and how the sun would be setting if he didn't
begin his descent. Quickly now,
and never mind the slipping.
Hundreds of miles to the south, in the frying pan city,
a large lens focuses the sun on those who scurry
from house to car. Mr. Bondo is heading there,
where channeled water flows into kidney-shaped lakes
and ponds like lungs without air. He is falling
past the shores of an old sea whose salt still glimmers
and whose shells are bowls full of sand. Cedar
and juniper have tipped their roots in; the piņon pine
gave up miles ago. His hand lets go of the wheel
on a curve whose tangent throws him
into the plump barrel of a cactus, arms up
into the sky. Hallelujah! The land
of lizard gods, snakes of dry belief.
H A M I L T O N S T O N E E D I T I O N S
p.o. box 43, Maplewood, New Jersey 07040