And the Gauchos Sing

by Mike Puican

Catalpas blooming up and down Catalpa Street, car alarms blooming up

and down Waveland Avenue—an instant of nature without the narrative.

O face-in-your-morning-juice, swimmer-in-an-old-wool-suit,

we sit side by side on the steps smoking the same cigarette,

watching children who live alone, women married to the wrong men.

Here is your little dog roaming the alley. What will he do for love this time?

The gauchos sing: “The silver lights of stars hurl themselves

against the open pampas of Clark Street” O tomato-in-a-woman’s-palm,

one millisecond following the next millisecond, “Heal thyself,”

the poem says, “Pick up your beggar’s mat and walk.”

You hurl yourself into traffic. You talk to cops and street thugs;

they smile at their smartphones. They strut in the sun like jackals

after a kill. And the gauchos sing: “Everyone will finally leave you, fugitive.”

A cloud of pigeons cuts through the smog. Everyone will finally leave you.

When the bus comes we sing like sailors. A red sky presses you to its lips.

I tell you that everything has already been written. You say

on a long, difficult pilgrimage Bashō wrote on his hat.

From Poetry, June 2012. For Barry Silesky.