Stephen Massimilla


after Neruda


An odor has been loitering in the cane fields:
an intermingling of outrage and blood, a nauseous,
penetrating anti-bouquet.
Among the coconut palms, the graves are freighted
with demolished bones. Over the stertorous coughs
of shovels, the effete autocrat chatters
among wineglasses, spangled uniforms, and plaited gold.
His little palace glitters like a wristwatch
and the rapid gloved laughter of his colonels and ladies
flitters intermittently down the hallways,
never to meet up with dead voices
and freshly buried mouths of azure.
The steady defiant crying is concealed
like the work of a plant
ceaselessly shedding its seeds on the tiles;
huge eyeless leaves keep spreading without light.
Hatred has accumulated blow by blow, stratum
by bubbling stratum, in the awful muck of the swamp
patrolled by a snout full of clay and silence.