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The words I spilled in to the gutter
Mingled and cavorted through drain ditches
And switchback bloated rain puddles.

They bled through seines and
Sinuous tree roots,
The smooth undersides of turtles.

Steelheaded and obstinate,
Those words refused to turn back.
Rather, they melted into the river’s rush.

A thousand scaly beats,
Metered, quartered, drawn
With a galoot’s precision,
Swam headstrong into
A fresh perversion.

Splashing and grinding
Against obtuse currents,
They struggled to spin gold
From the tailwind.

But neurological dams,
The kind compliance engineers
Put up to power street lights
To brighten narrow paths,
Kept those words from reaching
Their ancestral spawning grounds.

Those ancient pools,
Once glittering steel and umber
In crisp mountain sun,
Now sit idle, fetid, undisturbed
By the thrash and roil of living speech.

And down in the delta
Words swim frantic like lost mothers.
Too aloof to grow dynamite,
Too stubborn to build nests in trees,
Their wisdom goes untold
And their legacy slips out of view
Until one day, perhaps,
A barefoot child sneaks up
And pokes one with a whittled stick.

Companion art: “Temas Regionais,” by Rubem Zevallos

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