Tuesday, April 02, 2013

This poem first appeared in my book, In the City of Smoking Mirrors.

A Letter to My Brothers and Sisters in North Korea

    Where will all the music go if you bomb us?
    Do the fashion magazines lie?
    I hate to be serious, North Korea.

    But there are stations playing all night here
    and sometimes the disc jockeys spin
    old dreams of love
    almost no one knows, awkward frequencies
    announcing us to the stars.

    I've heard of your masses
    starving in railway stations.
    Your cobbler sick hue
    won't keep me from calling you.

    I don't have any apples.
    There's no way all the TV stations could lie.
    Your cobbler sick hue
    won't keep me from calling.

    North Korea, in one of my magazines
    there's a girl without shoes. In one of my tea cups
    a .30 caliber bullet, an indescribable lotus
    blossom wrapped crudely in wax.

    It's for when you cross the sea
    in your rocket
    of the thousand petaled sun
    so bright, so bright.

    But before that happens
    I'm calling your sons and daughters
    to tell them that evil red communism
    never happened here--
    we're happy watching beautiful
    models and basketball players--
    that evil red communism
    failed here and will always fail
    here because we have the Dodgers
    and full supermarkets
    and lovely green rooms
    under the Rockies
    where our warriors sleep
    in their own slow radiation.

    But this argument, too, has ended.

    Sadly, and terribly
    atoms conspire against us
    generals conspire against
    all of our favorite songs
    to keep us from knowing
    our bodies, our hands
    how we might mingle
    or touch.

    Radios are a must, North Korea.

    For if I choose to love you
    anymore, with your winter
    hats made of coyote fur,
    and the children you drop off at the zoo,
    I'll have a song in my head
    for all the dead ever did to you,
    a gift from the stars

    that sounds almost new.

A Map of the Body in Love

Each of us has a map of somewhere
stenciled on the body--it's just
a matter of who will see this nearly
spiritual self getting activated
under a sign in the sky that looked
like doom--there it was, a lost
comet heading for the sun.  We were
dumb enough to assume its aim was
the trajectory all of us take, getting
lighter, getting closer
to heat each time
we pass each other.  What I'm saying
is that there's no way to see
what you see but I know
the galaxy's spine like I know
your brown back sometimes,
touching me in the night 
of our newly found sleep.