from Looking for The Cantos in Texas
Attic in smoky light,
caution tape for the myopic,
Brazos Exterminators! William S. Burroughs!
Hear me. I can’t find The Cantos
in the brazen of palmetto exoskeletons
and lost limbs, dust reconstituting
between wood panel and drywall.
A window air-conditioner beats, whirs:
exhalation of not-so-conditioned air
and the bugs and the bugs’ former skins
don’t mind one bit.
And there was an apple on her head
and he did shoot with a revolver and he did miss,
William Telling her face first, in the Mexican
mouth Texas was once a crown for.
Caught fully in the dead crest of her sleeve,
he did turn tail and head North, out of Mexico,
out of Texas.
Smoke hangs on the Rio Grande,
where workers still follow William S.
from one wild to another, scrub brush
and dust in bucketfuls waiting on the other side.
Texans speaks Spanish angrily, refusing
the lilts of the language (“Don-DE AYE-sta
el BAIN-YO”?), moving with the dexterity
of worms through the gathering places
of migrants willing to do all the things they aren’t—
key-holed by the misnomer of language,
limpia los banos more like “lost
in the barrens” than clean the bathrooms.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Adrian Matejka
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse