SM (May 3,1981 / Tucson, AZ)

Guantanamera

We put our weapons in the trunk––
a wood staff, two metal bats, & a BB-gun
shaped like a Luger––
& set out for Lincoln Park in Trevor's '94 Firebird.
I sat in the back
with Kenny & the words of Wyclef,
believing what I sang
meant 'brotherhood' in another language.

Back then, we wanted fear
to break up the faceless days, believing Trevor
when he told us
that cults gathered at night
outside the park next to our high school.
I think some part of me wanted to place evil so close
to where I slept––
inside the people around me in everyday places.
I wanted to believe
that in a city where the sun burned into us daily,
something cold could settle.

We armed ourselves from the trunk
& cut through
a soccer field to the desert that dropped
into darkness beyond
the wide arcs of the field lights. I was first in,
the others tightening
into a line behind me as I angled through mesquites.
I watched ahead,
trying to catch the glow of a bonfire on the horizon,
pretending not to hear
the barking of a dog in a nearby yard. I wanted
to be lost in the wilderness.

I would not be for years, though on that night I felt it
for the first time,
in the way each word I sang broke from my tongue––
syllables forming words
I could never hope to understand.

by Sean McDowell

Comments (3)

Hey Sean, I am ancient (like 62) and livein another ocuntry.I have jsut spent some hours working through 7 pages sp far of poems from many countries and periods with the word staff in it. Wood staff. Making a poetry book for our friend Ken for whom we have made a wood staff for his 6-t birthday. Your poem is the first I have wanted to vote for and comment on. I reckon it is realist. It moves me. It says how putting it out there on the other IS. If we could all get that maybe we would discover the other is US. Carol
Your style is kind of like some of mine, in the way we tell stories in the form of poetry. I love this poem so much. Honestly, one of my favorites I've read on here. 'in a city where the sun burned into us daily, something cold could settle. ' I love that line.10!
This is more mini-prose than poetry, but who cares. I like it very much. You paint a great picture and I found myself following along with you on that night. Original and engaging.