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Ezequiel Zaidenwerg
Me pedibus delectat claudere verba.
Me pedibus delectat claudere verba.


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Our Last Days (LeRoy S. Davis)

When we learned the end was near,
we built, with our own hands,
a hut on the beach, using branches,
feathers, straw, bottle shards
and twisted metal. For the central
beam, which would brace the structure,
we set in the bone of a whale:
our home was clean and spacious,
and the sun bathed everything from above,
through a skylight. And although almost
of the time left to us was spent
on the task, we never panicked.
When we finished, we placed two chairs
outside, and we sat, to wait:
we embraced once or twice,
drank tea, played cards.
And when, at last, the hour arrived,
an elephant, vast and white, emerged
from the sea, and carried us on its back
into a horizon of wild foam.
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The Polar Expedition (LeRoy S. Davis)

When the polar expedition set sail
I thought of your body, and of the warm cloud
your breath left on the panes
of our stone and wooden house.
For the first few days, the weather was good;
the islands we came upon
were covered with sand and sleet,
and were deserted, except for
the occasional palm tree or two, trembling
in the bitter wind. Later, it rained.
Even so, the crew’s morale
stayed high: we were eating well.
As we advanced toward
the north, the cold grew stronger:
we saw an ice floe pass
and a camel frozen atop it.
Later, we sighted an arid inlet
with a rocky crag in the middle,
ringed with a fog that obscured
the summit; we decided to explore.
As soon as we touched ground, we sensed
the smell of carrion and badly cut
cocaine, and it made us nauseous;
from a distance we could hear a sinister
flapping of wings, which urged our escape.
We continued onward. The rations
were scarcer. Four or five
were now conspiring mutiny;
with effort, we managed to suppress them
and the frigid water was their tomb.
Later there was an outbreak of dysentery,
quelled by the ship’s doctor, but not before
it took a few of us with it;
others went insane from all the ice
and, like dogs, we sacrificed them:
there was no other way. We pressed on,
more and more decimated, until, finally,
we saw land: or, more than land, snow.
There were three of us: the cook, the doctor,
and me; all the others had died.
We lowered ourselves down with the few
supplies we had left-mostly canned-
and no other defense than some flare
guns. We promised each other
that we would never separate. Day and night
we carried on, searching without knowing
what it was we were searching for. Soon
our food ran out. One morning,
upon waking, the cook was gone;
we thought we saw, at some distance,
his dirty apron swirling
in a whirlpool. The blizzard
didn’t impede our movement through
the snowy plain: we began to see,
up ahead, above the horizon,
a brightness that even contrasted,
in all its potency, with the sun itself.
A few days later, the doctor
fell sick. Despite his weakness,
he instructed me on the use of certain weeds,
which I applied to no success. Just before
he died, he made me promise
I’d do anything (“Anything,”
he repeated, looking at me intently)
to reach the source of the light,
and I fended off my revulsion
and I ate. With renewed strength,
I continued along my path. The next day
I came upon a meadow, frosted over. There,
I saw a well: from inside, a pure light sprang forth
that illuminated earth, sea and sky
with a dazzling clarity.
Timidly, I approached the edge
and leaned forward to see what lay below:
I felt, suddenly, that I was dissolving,
and saw myself fall and heard my own voice,
as if it belonged to someone else, repeating,
I am embraced, I am embraced by darkness.
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The Lefties (Chris Talbott)

Face to face before the mirror, they seek
each other's best hand -- they write
with their fingers in the night's moist air
& stare while they sip the liquor
of consciousness -- they make
a point to back away -- they tangle up
in telephone wire & are rewoven
in the morning sun -- they play hide & seek
in the immediate & the oblique, & stay close
to the wild heart -- they listen to the deaf
music of the body -- detachment finds them
at home again -- dusk falls -- they take a broom
& try to free a restless dragonfly,
stuck & buzzing on the ceiling
of their rooms -- they sink
in deep silence & take shelter in the work
of muscle & spirit -- both mute, they speak
telepathically when night falls upon the fields
before the storm -- a ray of lightning strikes
nearby & holds them in an instant
of sheer light, while the wind blows, opening
& closing the window of their opportunity.
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The Only Child (Chris Talbott)

I see him splash in the pool
of his childhood, struggling not to sink,
a pair of floaters on his skinny
arms–– on vacations with his mother,
I see his thick glasses, watch
how he devours a book
in bed, while outside the sun shines &
the other children play in the yard––
I can picture him locked in
his room, away from the wrath
of his young stepmother–– or at school,
sucking in his belly in a futile
attempt to tie his shoes––
I see him reeling in the kitchen
as, somewhere, a plane taxis
to the runway, moments from taking
off with his childhood-- I see him
tremble by the river, learning
precociously, in the middle of a chilly night,
a new gymnastics from another
body–– I find him again, sitting on wet
grass in the dull haze of drugs, drunk
& chain-smoking, chattering incessantly
with a lone friend–– I catch him
tormented by sex, alone before
love & its atavism, lucid in
the naïveté he doesn’t know he has--
I watch how his muscles open, how
his height flowers upward-- how, while
he grows shadowed with the desire
of other people, he is burned, as by a silent ray,
by his own-- in college, I see
him with his hand raised, ready
with an inconvenient question--
I watch him transform soon after
into a serial boyfriend, the most likely
husband-- I find him, eyes open,
in the conjugal night, gazing at the splinters
of light that pass through the half-closed
blinds and float across the ceiling--
I see him suspended in the air
in his assigned seat, unable
to sleep, sick to his stomach
before the decision he will make, a plastic
cup in hand-- I discover him
alone again, lost in the music,
teeth coated with cement, trying
to learn how to live from flash
to singular blinding flash--
I observe how he floats amid
fragility, gently, on his back-- I watch him
shut in himself, peeking over
the edge of his own youth.
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The Old Nudists (Adam Wolniewicz)

Pale in my shame, I watch them:
the elderly, the masters of the beach.
Like sacred animals, they promenade
in groups across the sand, discussing
some trivial matter, as if the world
did not, in fact, belong to everybody else.
The men’s chests are salt- and silver-speckled,
their bellies like drums of some dark metal;
women swing their breasts
like overgrown tubers – they wear
their bodies like someone who discovers
new clothing in the closet, plucks
off the tag, and puts them on.
Like menhirs beneath a stupefying sun,
they seem to say: We are
but dust and shadows, yet shadows
that walk toward the light
and dust that sows a seed – as they give in
to the amniotic embrace of the sea.
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