Milner Place lives in Huddersfield, England. His 7th poetry collection, Caminante, is his most recent work - released by Wrecking Ball Press (www.wreckingballpress.com). He has also written The City of Flowers, Piltdown Man and Batwoman, In A Rare Time of Rain, etc.
© 2006 Milner Place
Born in a land of dust, bitter in the throat,
in a summer when crows and rats fattened
on corpses that swelled in the cornfields.
The deep song remembered, sung by the river.
The blood of my people couldn't quench
the thirst in this soil, sapped by roots
of cork oaks and olives, while willows
mourned to a reflection of the moon.
Next year my father died of lead;
up north, by some river called Jarama.
All in the name of their country.
All in the name of their
First love on a carpet
of almond blossoms.
like a night wind;
the wine cool,
to a river swimming
to the sea.
The wind salted,
a ship reeking
of tobacco and coffee
steamed into sunsets.
The world uneasy,
flecked by fins
in a wall of palm trees,
a squandering of surf;
songs of mosquitos,
Strange birds, strange trees, throttling vines,
the forest like a stagnant sea where swam
great undulating snakes and pig-sized rats.
But the familiar strife for life, breath, bread,
greed, sex, and sorrow in its sable weeds,
was rife. Harsh laughter in dank steamy bars
where mercenary love was sold; envy, sharp
with the steel of knives, hatred an axe;
sins of the old world grafted on the new.
Bird-calls silenced by the whine of saws.
The forest, with its myriad forms of life,
stank of death. Only a voracious few,
jaguar, cayman, eagle and great snake,
might live their lives to die of age.
in the forest by hunger,
shackled for the reaping
has been turned
so many times
I still can smell the forest's decadence, its very sweat.
The dead I drank with rotted on its floor. Its rivers
mist-hung in orange dawns, sandbanks where caymans
soaked in sun, and maybe, in a break of trees,
snow white peaks floating above the clouds.
Deep, deeper into that omnivorous world the river
slimmed, the vine-hung walls drew closer, sky-high
mountains grew, drawing me like a haltered mule
to where the trees no longer grazed; cold tumbled
down the screes, and in the wrinkles of the skin
water cascaded, shouted, roared. Atrocious winds
fell on the hungry farmers scratching at rare soil.
On what the condor leaves,
the zopilotes feast.
The air too spare
for my poor lungs,
the cold not to my taste.
So downwards then
towards another coast,
towards the setting sun.
A desert whispered,
voices of the dead. The sand
abandoned among empty streets
of cities populous with bones.
A port, another city
with its vitreous towers,
gilded shops and restaurants,
while all around, like garbage
piled, a detritus of shacks.
at the country club.
A baby is dead
at a mother's breast.
Juanita lived beside the shore.
Some mud-brick huts above a bay,
perched on red-rock cliffs
where gallinazos wait for death.
She cleaned and cooked
the still wet fish
I brought her from the field
we reaped. She kindled
a fire to burn at night.
The making of our love
a surf that broke
and then she died.
The song is sung.
All work is property of Milner Place.
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