"Santiago, Pluperfect"
"Santiago, Pluperfect"
A weekly poem, read by the author.
Aug. 25 2009 7:15 AM

"Santiago, Pluperfect"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear  Lance Larsen read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

Three kids kicking the bejesus out of a taped-up
milk carton and calling it soccer. Pigs
recycling rotten cabbages without being asked. 
What we drink in drinks us. In the feria,
the melon man with a shriveled arm
pushes a cracked honeydew off his stand.   

The splat of green flesh lets him send grabby
urchins to hell while keeping them well-fed
for the trip. Shortcuts home add an hour
of pastoral chance to my hurry, past the Río Maipu,
past cows rechewing their boredom
under a tree. What we dream dreams us.

A piece of me hangs with the newspaper kite
caught in the power line. Another piece
slumbers in the graveyard in beds
of cement stacked six high. At the tracks,
I copy a pair of wild-haired sisters
and lay three pesos on the rail, then wait.

Soon a train to Valparaíso will stretch
the face of a dour liberator into something hot
that gleams. I shopped for bread
and accents this morning and carry home
bread and accents. If angels lodge inside
us, they feed on details, then retreat into hiding.


Lance Larsen's most recent collection is Backyard Alchemy. A professor at Brigham Young University, he received a 2007 NEA fellowship.