Open Letter to Mammon


A muddy touché! Ye villains
of Hong Kong and Dubai,
fork-tongued evangelists of
foreign currency!

We applaud the handing over
of our stolen goods –
May we offer you a free-of-charge
gondola ride over the holy land
a bird’s-eye view of your assets
your wives and daughters, your mothers
your pimps, your priests and pederasts
your arms traders and factory generals
your Legacy on its death march –
advancing with the Exodus
in the shadow of a thunderhead
towards the promise of absolution
in a wine dark sea

Desiccated by desert heat
the old, the weak, and the very young
and others beyond utility
shall remain eternally entombed
under a violent sun–

Still others, inhabitants of bygone ice
of the high steppes,
of the Dengue jungles,
of the sand spit nations,
by your leave they join the fate of those
dragging their feet from Bethlehem
with the taste of sea salt
on their blackened tongues

You, tiny man with the tiny screen,
spitting crimson betel juice
on the shoeshine boy
from the City of God,
on the shoeshine girl
from the City of Angels,
grinning, your bleachies glinting
as the laborers of your camps
vacate the bowels, so oozing with parasites,
of your Super Babylons
of your endless outskirts
of your suburban Irkallas
with their rent-a-Nergals
festering like a thousand boils
upon the continents

The widening gyre spins in
a kaleidoscope
of shampoo bottles

Throw a rock through
the liquor store window –
Go to Jail dot com

Yesterday, a reactor meltdown in Japan,
Tomorrow the monarch will perish
in the rain of highway shoulder poisons,
meanwhile microbeads assemble in
nearshore waters–
they are watching you like
a billion billion billion
primitive eyes in the waves

Forgetting, they abandon the stragglers
shaking breadcrumbs from their pockets
tossing silver coins for the trade rats

Some leave to wander the
emptied alleys and wind tunnels –
woodwinds of the Trades –
echoing in the lonely island temples
sinking back into the oceans
of their emergence

No one to know what the polecat ate
No one to hear the gasping
of the Vaquita and Silky Sifafka
of the Mekong Catfish
as they sink below the surface

But wait, Mammon, remember
your little chochita with
pinto bean skin?
She hides her poison darts
under her Shakira beach towel –
She is coming for you first, hombre

You and your black market organ traders
who sleep like infants and fear nothing
if not the loss of your Legacy –
you must know that It too will be buried
in the sub-sea archives

This text is classified
Your last wishes will be recorded
in the annals of the Lithosphere
lost in the subduction zones
guarded by tube worms –
great scholars of the deep


A Fauna of Mirrors


In ancient China some believed that
behind all mirrors other worlds existed
inhabited by strange fauna
each unique to its proper mirror
all unknown and strange to even
those men and women
who once knew the ways of
the Pig-footed bandicoots
the Honshū wolves
the Dusky Seaside sparrows
the Golden Toads, or
the rhinoceroses –
the Blacks of the West and Whites of the North.

Perhaps owing to industry
or perhaps a lack of imagination
the worlds behind the mirrors were shut
to us and our distrust of mirrors grew
as did the blinding glare
of their reflections.

In the many thousands of years
since the worlds were shut
we have forgotten to look
into these ancient mirrors –
those that shine in the end of an icicle
a quiet alpine lake
a polished hubcap or a cup of coffee
the eye of a black snake
or a desert mirage.

We turned our attention instead
to those mirrors that spoke to us
and believed we saw ourselves
in truth.

Yet beyond the quicksilvered surface
of all mirrors, infinite in number,
the Fauna lives in the myrtle forests
sips nectar from the yellow asphodel
and grazes in fields of cry pansy.

They hunted and slept
called and mated
were born and died
drank from coldwater brooks
burrowed, nested, and flapped
a million iridescent wings in the stirring breeze.

They waded in the sheeting water
of a tide receding across the sugar fine sands
alight with the fireball orange
of the evening sky.

Borges took inventory of this fantastic menagerie.
For all we know, may be among them now.

Only few mirrors are left
through which we may
one day glimpse the
swaying of root-spine palms
or reach the canopy of Rhea’s kapok tree
where the Lamed Wufniks
mourn their last sunrise as men.

All hope is not lost.

And what of the cracked mirrors?
Somewhere on Earth, at midnight
a plastic hand mirror, perhaps
dropped in the morning rush
harbors the last of the illusive black Ping Feng –
a pig with a head and another
where a tail should be.

Behind the persisting oil slick
gelatinous, clinging to the marsh grass
the slithering Hua Fish resides
foretelling of drought
to nobody listening.

In a coal black puddle
at the bottom of a mineshaft
the shy Quilin – famed unicorn of China –
moves silently amidst the Wuda tree ferns
which once grew taller than an oak.

All hope is not lost.

Quilin, protector of men
from the one-headed dog with two bodies
known as T’ao T’ieh the Ravenous,
longs to walk the overgrown roads
the buckling tarmacs
and falling bridges
of our ancient cities.

One who might dare to look
into the poisoned slurry of
the once might San Joaquin
now dying slowly of thirst –
one who might push aside the floating leaves
to scoop away bad residues
may chance to glimpse the rare
rain bird – Shang Yang.

Shang Yang, by carrying river water
in its beak, creates rain
and could be of great comfort to us now.

All hope is not lost.

Yet the Fauna of Mirrors
being of animal mind
has no memory of this place
and does not remember well-traveled paths
between their worlds and ours.

It is said that the last time
anything bothered to come back
was to deliver us one of our own
– the Devourer of the Dead.