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.













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