“Dreaming Neruda”

bare feet    bent toes that speak

in verse and kiss the dirt with nails like teeth


curved shell on the isla of remembering and forgetting

isla isla isla    oh onyx star    oh creak    croak    stutter


song or howl mounting from the artery

of all beginnings    grief of tainted future    oh stone    claw


in sand    bamboo bowl    oh hoof-print on clay    crochet

of tall grass whisking and masquerading a multitude


of cricket breaths    oh mouse dropping on the counter and broken window

oh gates of no return    neighbor collecting white    yellow   and a blue egg


in a basket for a friend    chicken pumping out perfection    oh

town meeting with beaks    wings    buzzers and screechers


oh memory of wholeness    never-ending assumption    forgetful lip

oh wicked denial    oh names of brown and black bodies the state murders


cloaked in blood drained white    oh Alton Sterling   Philando Castile    oh families

donde se diga tu nombre se dira Victoria    Nicaragua ‘83


oh the hundreds oh the thousands oh corpses in the heart

and under the ground oh rupture    oh nameless shame


oh tongue and larynx and throat wall stopped for lack

of meaning and suddenly a thousand bullfrogs in a pond


I never saw until the millisecond of now    as I sit still within

the endless reach of your teaching    spit of contradiction    oh broken


translation    these inadequate ears    oh work    oh dream of a we

oh smallness    oh poet/diplomat/celebrator of each molecule of daily life

tell me from the other world        what do we make now


Kathy Engel, July, 2016

(inspired by Ernst Jandl’s “the usual rilke”)

Published in Women’s Voice for Change