"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.
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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.

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