American Muse: Juan Felipe Herrera


“I Forget the Date”

I forget the date:
en route to Austin, Texas: soda on tray.

Women at the computer, mexicanas
learning to read and write at the same time,
a workshop, we exchange stories

the crossings:

Chihuahua—I think of my father, for a moment—
I see him again, robust, alone, walks to the park,
the heat dissolves the avenues.

The Nomenclature cuts across the Arctic:
snare the oil, gas lines, install the stations,
derricks and surveillance towers, surveys, documents,
classified pouches.

Carry this microscopic fissure
into South Asia. Diplomats—they say,
so many teams of men, they orbit in silence and

loud vests and helmets, they stoop with a sweetness
and sift the granules, then, they rise,

oblong, hunched, on fire,
ready to dig into the ice, a new boundary for the national vortex,
this undeclared war; the almost-uttered war, this war begins,
listen. Listen closely—

I hear a rap song in the distance:
“I am standin’ in Lebanon
watchin’ everbody get it on,
why am I the only one
singin’ this desolation song…?”


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