THE LONG MARCH

Early morning, aroma of roasted beans

Five fallen banana petals gathered in their crosshatched

whorl, a mandala reset as blessing

at the entrance to our house, then the roundabout

walk into town and back, past the corner

jetty of garbage, armpits of garbage.

Above the archipelagos of garbage, a host of dead seagulls

far inland. Step after step is its own reward.

The few trees that remain work overtime, troubled arms

bent with the weight. Down the stone steps

to the dragon spout, mud-grimed trash, and face up,

a rain-soaked teddy bear. Bars, barbed wire,

piled rubble, a hidden Ganesh rises from hand-shaped stone.

Beneath a saw’s staccato rumination, an offbeat

chorus of teacher and student. In the sour bitten air,

tiny reclusive flowers open. Brick, rebar,

porous cement, a glimpse of paddy and bamboo long gone.

Sawhorses block the street to the embassy

Riot police strung out in force to forestall phantom protest

Snowflakes of burnt garbage litter the air

Singed flesh tattooed with letters

Beads gouged from discarded bones

lie stacked in vaults. Behind the high spear-tipped gates,

heart-beats confiscated on arrival,

the names of the dead ringed in with a wall of fire

At the border crossing

souls pile up. Between this life and the next

the long march begins

Long after the crickets swallow the dark,

cutting through bone and skull, vandalizing dream,

the electric saw breaks rank and runs on

past the comatose guards

knee deep, through blood soaked sludge

into everlasting night

till a wanton spark sets the interminable concourse

aflame. The hate skunked executioners

shiver as they wake

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