“Kindness” in Drunken Boat (includes audio recording)

Nicaragua 2008

The barefoot boys are little men—
sticky children wielding machetes, slicing weeds.

Dogs in gaunt elegance
bow their heads and follow—

scabs and bubble gum on their matted fur.

We say if there were ever animals
to kill themselves, it would be these dogs.

The girls we never see. I imagine
they are grinding corn
or rubbing their hands raw
on soap and slabs of concrete in the morning fog.


In my dream last night,
I was pregnant and didn’t want it,
so I used nails.

That’s all I remember: nails
and a birth not celebrated.

How easily we protest discomfort: the heat making nests
in the thickets of our bodies, the insects
like scissors on our ankles, the shit and static water.

How we learn to praise
a grain of rice
when we hear the slight gurgle
of hunger in the flute of the body.

How we learn to love
an egg.

We can eat until we are shamefaced and swollen
with happiness and light and the neverending.


What can milk say?
Victorious milk,
milk like mucous
in your throat— a pearl.
Cruel milk with a hair in it

The kindness of milk.


Granada: a British man with bleached hair
walks barefoot in the street
in his imagined bohemia. Among glass
scattered like confetti.

Two backpackers
with sores like tropical flowers,
iridescent sores,
sores like opal.

A young boy kisses his fingers
and presses them to our cab window.


In Estelí
a rattle of history, a photograph—

Miliciana de Waswalito: Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

A radiant Sandinista breastfeeding,
a rifle on her back.


In the morning my period comes
like a hot and languid Sunday afternoon.

My breasts still remembering
the milk the body can brew.