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children suckle bombs,
grin mouthful of bullets,

step on barb wire dreams,
a landmine jigsaws them

to pieces. Across the river,

new tenements finger

toward heaven. This side
bombs the other, and they

riddle our days with missiles.

On the water, we see

images of clouds bursting,
burning into that line many

have learned to cross, where
our dead whisper their songs

in smoke-blind wind.

The Exile Speaks

of a red tongue, black words
a necessary longing for shadow,

a corpuscle, a dangled leaf
from a spider web’s thread,

useless hands, fingers claw
any dirt, seeds bloom into fists

an anger never allowed to ebb,
dreams of rotted, worm infested

pulp, all that tastes bitter, agrio
like bile, a regurgitation of lost

steps. Why not forget? Teeth
chatter in cold night air, dentures

in a glass. Away from the mouth,
teeth sing to all those about to drown.


We keep an eye open, even in sleep,
watching the couple of hairs twitch

on the man sitting next to me on this
West-bound flight. His skin deep

olive, his eyes Arabic coffee ground.
What language is spoken between us?

Our bodies? He suspects that I too
am not from here, these parts, where

the earth leaps and bounds over mesas,
rivets up in bluffs, canyons, rivers

sparkle down below. He smells me,
and I in turn smell a faint scent of tumeric,

or bijol, the colorant my mother used
in her paellas, or arroz con pollo dishes.

He knows where I’m going, keeps an
eye on my shoes, my coat, my laptop

upon which I am writing: I know you,
I know where you come from. I see

that place of rivers in your eyes where
your dead have floated off into eternity

burning, sinking into forgetful waters.

Virgil Suárez

strong>Virgil Suárez was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1962. Since 1974, he has lived in the United States. He is the author of over twenty books of prose and poetry, most recently Infinite Refuge, Palm Crows, Banyan, and Guide to the Blue Tongue. In winter 2005, the University of Pittsburgh Press will publish 90 Miles: Selected and New Poems. He is the co-editor of four anthologies published by the University of Iowa Press: American Diaspora, Like Thunder, Vespers, and Red, White, and Blue. His poetry has been chosen for inclusion in Best American Poetry 2004. He is currently writing a new novel and restoring a 1955 Chevrolet.

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