Doren Robbins

Rookie - 0 Points (1949 / Los Angeles, California)

For Pablo Neruda (Elegy)

Poem by Doren Robbins

Lean men,
broad shouldered men,
I see them in the newspaper
with their perfectly styled hair
and their sagging inquisitive eyes
and the gold bars on the epaulets of their uniforms
that shine even there is no light—
they took you down, Neruda,
it didn’t matter to them
that you emerged from the
birthplace of shadows—
it didn’t matter to them
that you imitated the moon with words
for a woman, or that you screamed at the blood
on the factories
of the poor—
they simply wanted you dead—
you were weak,
you were old,
you saw it coming,
it was the same state police siren you heard
when they wanted you dead before—
I read how they withheld your medicine
when you were already dying,
how they confiscated your piece of land,
how they decorated the flowery bedrooms of militarymen
with your exotic collection of shells,
how they burned all your books that were related
to the vegetation you were about to become.
I re-read your Nobel speech tonight, Neruda—
you said you always put your trust in man,
you said you never lost hope,
you said you believed in the prophecy of Rimbaud,
how “in the dawn, armed with a burning patience, we
shall enter the splendid cities”—and now
the corporatemen, and the police informers,
and the military have covered the splendid city again
with their piss and spit and bullets.

It doesn’t matter to them.
All the fires are out of you
now, Neruda. There is no Phoenix—only
in your poems,
there is no splendid city—only
in words we are too rotten to believe.

4 a.m.
The lamp in the patio
burns all night
like a wing
on a dead body
that won’t stop flying.

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Read poems about / on: city, trust, believe, woman, elegy, hair, moon, lost, hope, light, night, poem, women

Poem Submitted: Monday, December 13, 2004