Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

d a v i d   t h o r n b r u g h   ~   s e a t t l e ,   w a s h i n g t o n


" . . . in America, being a poet means more
than being a prince in Europe. " -- Federico Garcia Lorca

Federico the Chrysler Building
is smashing its way along 42nd Street
like an ocean liner,
Federico the market crashes
like a rose casket where millionaires
rub the eyes of horses.
Federico the pigeons of Times Square
flash gypsy knives along the neon
Camel spines,
Federico you are slicing open a sheep's eye
in Salvador Dali's open palm,
Federico you are reaching out
for the choir boy drowning in the Hudson,
Federico you are trailing crumbs
from the Automat down Broadway
in the subway dawn,
Federico the stenographers
and butchers offer you
their buttocks of lettuce and gristle,
their mantillas of dollar bills,
their duende of donuts dunked in coffee,
Federico it is almost dawn
where the horse trips over its own entrails
and the blind moles burrow through history,
Federico you passed through New York
like a comet behind a cloud,
your crown clatters on the chromium skull
of the Empire State,
Federico return to Spain
for your coronation of gun smoke,
America always was a promise
run over in the street
like a dog or a queer poet.



One day cartoon thought balloons appeared
over everyone's head instead of spoken words,
black letters against white backgrounds
like mice against snow. Sound withered
around words with a crisp finality.
Maybe the air was worn out and couldn't
hold any more vowels,
maybe consonants had clashed
just once too often
and had to be retired.
It was a little strange at first
but people adapted. Not much different
from watching television, really.
You had to read fast as the sentences
tattooed themselves into the space
above a speaker's head,
catching nuances before they faded,
like flies falling from evaporating webs.
Blind people spoke in raised dots
on foreheads that the listener fingered
to decipher. If anything, communicating
became more intimate, more tactile,
like buying bread by smell
instead of brand. And now in the streets
you can see people talking to themselves,
crowned by little white clouds
like puffs of glowing smoke,
trailed by the odor of language.

This poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize

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