They bring offerings of roasted chicken and grain liquor,
cigars and cigarettes, to the saint so human viceful failed.
Drop to their knees, ask for miracles for their sick or dying,
relief from card game debt or to sway fantasy love heart.
>From his decaying wooden thrown above, black tuxedo plastic wry grin,
granting wishes for sinners who can do no right.
These are the ones he favors, derelict saint beloved
part Mayan, part Catholic, Guatemalan holy mutt,
yet shared by all, the parish priest in conforming red robe,
the Quiche holy men outside, their swaying supplication
and burning mirth and fires flailing to the above,
the lover who held the waist of thin isthmus dancing for all times.
They pray and rebel so softly, trampled by giants always,
the Spanish armored knights, the moguls of dollar bitter fruit,
dictator death squads, failed coup after failed coup.
Better to bring lean pork and smooth rum to the wicked saint,
who quietly conjures his magic, the other saints long fast asleep.
I remember now of being
so frightfully alone,
that I would lie in the darkness,
count the ticks of the hotel clock,
that beat with the precision
of teenagers in the backs of first cars,
or the less steady beat under my chest,
and wondered, how many more
ticks or beats I could take,
before I would merely vanish,
without a witness
to even report of the event.
Three more beats, until I snapped
like an old fan belt?
But each day the sun would wake me,
and I would walk to the café
where the waitresses spoke more English
than I did Spanish.
They laughed, teased, called my eyes
heuvos verdes del diablo:
green devil eggs,
and I would watch their breasts
move as they giggled,
and their breasts would feed me,
and their giggles would fed me,
a nurturing soup to cure for moments
all that inflicted me.
After, I would roam the hillsides,
and the people would wave and stare,
and I wondered when
I would let myself go home.
Sometimes all you can do is ride death to the end and hope she lets you off
Psychotic fevers cannot be discarded
at one in the morning
into a lumpy bed in central Mexico
no matter how much you pray.
The rhythm of the marimbas
will not stop your agony.
Lovers' screams howling through the wall
you imagine are phantoms of hate
that send you rolling on the floor
body drenched in sweat
your mind roams false to unknowable horrors
that descend into your room.
The shades flap violently above the window
the dancing ceiling fan marched towards you
like a parading monogrammed tombstone.
Weak and parched as the fever breaks
you open the door onto the courtyard
into the sun your eyes strain to focus
children playing soccer shoeless and free
you scratch your stomach
feel your breath shallow but present
and run as fast as you can to join them.
Rich Furman, PhD, is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University, his poetry has been published or is soon to be published in Pearl, Hawai'i Review, Black Bear Review, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, Poetry Motel, Penn Review, and nearly 100 other literary journals. His scholarly writing is concerned with social work ethics, international social work, friendship, social work theory and social work practice. He teaches group and practice courses in the BSW and MSW programs. He is married to a wonderful women who has more freckles than there are craters on the moon, has two children, loves to mountain bike, and is slightly obsessed with his two wonderful American Bull dogs. Mostly, he just likes to live as fully as possibly. He welcomes feedback, comments and dialogue about his work. His first book of poetry, Holding the Void, will be available from Snorting Dog Press, 2002.