Karen Kevorkian

 


 

(USA)

 

 

 

Close Agreement Exists
 

between the Codex Fiorentino and the Historia de Tlaxcala as to the omens that appeared ten years before the Spanish first came to Mexico

 

It seemed to bleed fire, drop by drop, like a wound in the skyAn inkspatter of starlings

 

a tremor a sootsplat tornado murmuration

 

a clumping a rage

 

the idea of lack so crammed with meaning

 

a spread flat bedsheet’s gunpowder spill

black shot rivulets in the creases

then wild diffusion, cursive shaping

 

pointillist demotic on a blank folio

 

The temple first into flames

 

Yellow as lemons, red as a toxic sun

maroon of old leather handbags, seductively

the current invites

 

directed by a configuration of streambed

it swells, cold,

dark wet and rolling

 

taking leaves in lazy yellow moving

 

The people said: The temple was struck by a blow from the sun

 

Each building projected an everyday shadow

no fog softening or smoke rising from the ground

 

nor falling from the sky

a sickness of air

 

sickness of the eyes

silence of a bad sun

 

anything could happen

imponderable yellow ash

 

in places false rose or stagnant blue

nothing definite or indefinite

 

pointless to ask what was known

no possibility of sentiment

 

a hastening

like something heard

 

or the truth

always about to appear

 

There was a great outcry and confusion as if the people shook a thousand little bells

 

Painful, like oblique light

like sidewalk ice mistaken

for broken glass

 

yellow caution tape’s

protected space

 

sound of water rushing

or maybe fire

 

The wind lashed the water until it boiled

 

A bus door opened

 

everything

bagged in plastic

 

dogs tugging at corpses

 

for days, hundred on the bridges

 

the bus filling with that smell

give her some air please

 

A weeping woman, night after night

 

Soft vowels of NAFTA, maquiladoras, pistoleros,

mordidas

 

polychromed saviors

paper diapers

 

the shit. Teeth-yellow

battered grasses, beautiful

 

the blue Sonoran ranges

la frontera

 

dark star. Sore fingers

from the little thorns

 

her Calexico your Mexicali

 

her glock your AK-47, her gifts

 

narcotraficantes, coyotes, arroyos

 

 

 

Every Day, Insidious

 

 

Every day, insidious pleasure

 

leaves touching

 

little sighs

 

and thinking this won’t last and wanting to seize

 

and then

 

to seize becomes foreign as if the leaves

spoke Etruscan some excess

 

of vowel sounds or Cantonese.

 

 

 

Beirut May 2008

 

Assembling what was known in the fever glitter of what was not known

 

the vocabulary of acronyms, bonjours and mercis elided

into Arabic. I had not been the one in the room

 

above Hamra Street, looking down on the man in the shrubs

rocket launcher on his shoulder. I did not know the

shrapnel in the wall

 

I could leave it, a souvenir

 

who was and was not fighting whom that week. I drove past the Green Line,

the Holiday Inn’s half-eaten tower

 

they talk of leaving it this way, a monument. Believe me,

since the bombing downtown has been dead

 

Drug wars I told them though not where I live.

 

 

(All three poems from Lizard Dream, What Books Press)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________

 

BIO

 

Karen Kevorkian has published two poetry collections, Lizard Dream and White Stucco Black Wing. A native of Texas, she lives in Los Angeles. Her work appears recently in Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Denver Quarterly Review, Volt, and Colorado Review. She teaches at UCLA.

 

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