this cabron with the .45 snug
against the small of his back. The barrio
in decline, he'd run off thieves and junkies
in the night. We said we'd write a film
about right-wing extremists stealing
a warhead but never did. His sad corrido
for mock terrorist attacks and gas raids filled the cabof the DOE truck with dust and laughter.
I was along to write a report.
I could have said as much about the son
who almost died of heroin, or the wife
refusing cancer treatments to make him pay
for his infidelities.
He lived for the adrenaline rush. But I wonder
if the job's stress wore a hole in his life
or if he drank that bottle just to eat
the worm at the bottom. He left the frayed and brown
family history in my office, but we never talked about it.
Those roots in the land,
in time, torn up by the war machine he never questioned,
the nuclear winds and blinding light he thought he could ride
like a bronco busting legend. Or was the question there,
hidden, an unfinished addition to the adobe home,
its uneven walls uneven testimony to his loyalty
for those secrets he'd kill me for if he told me,
he said smiling. I laughed. It was that laugh sharpened
on the edge of despair and paranoia that I loved.
We won the war and now the world's free for democracy
and gain. The smoothed over graves of toxic waste
and chemicals haunt the imaginations of the unwise.
He will only divulge what he knows in epigrams
and sad stories learned at his grandmother's knee.
I heard in his voice the struggle that puts
the world back on its hinge, balanced in that
ever disappearing stream whose reality we cannot doubt
since it is where we slake our thirst.