Poetry » Glenn Halak »

We Must Leave Now

Dear Tu Fu: Much is the same.
Great dragons still hide
in the clouds
Men are clever when it comes
to cutting throats.

The dragons have different names, of course.
Progress, for example is shiny
                    and very long.

If you were here you’d drive
to the mountains.
You wouldn’t walk.

But dying is still a series
                    of hurried rest stops.

And the dew glitters in the morning
                    and women paint their toenails.

War keeps the politicians busy
                    and as ambitious people age
                    their mouths rot from the inside out.

You wouldn’t be allowed a boat
                    if you were drinking,
                    not in the Emperor’s cities.

But you could take a night flight
                    to a tropical isle and watch
                    the fishes eat each other
                    in blue water startled to perfection
                    by the moon.

I hope this letter reaches you.
                    The mail is closely watched.
                    The enemy is everywhere.
The sound of guns is now almost deafening,
though the emperor’s wife has taken a new lover
and people are hopeful.

As you know few people read
poetry when there’s hope
or when there’s none.


Beyond an old barn, stanchions long gone
                    on the far side of a deep acequia,
                    surrounded by thickets of sumac
                    and giant cottonwoods,
                    an adobe house, a stone tower,
                    and so many stables.

They keep darkness in the stables now
                    though the animals are still there,
                    mostly horses, waiting within the darkness;
                    the waiting a fullness not an absence.

Humans trap animals and abandon them
                    behind walls and like to imagine the animals
                    are waiting for understanding,
                    but only the walls need humans.

And the waiting, the fullness, doesn’t exist
                    once someone burns down the walls
                    and sets them free.

Then all bets are off.
                    Dark suns gallop in the earth.
                    It becomes obvious
                    who’s trapped and abandoned
                    beyond waiting.