Poetry from Web del Sol


Turgid punches of the horns — all jabs — a bassoon’s left hook
knocks you awake in your seat. Why on earth
did the strings’ last swell evoke oilfields, malignant
waver of drills over refinery lights? The symphony
flows along like a river thickened to sludge, conductor
a drunken CEO on his catamaran’s prow.

                    — then there’s no sludge at all — just a man bombarded
                    by the distilled fury of isotopes. His life pools

                     to a stain on the pout of a marble stair, flesh singed
                     to pigment and vein.

The stranger next to you asks for the time but the vision’s taken hold —
absently you tilt your watch to his gaze and

                    crescendo! The heroine faces a tough choice.
                    Does she let her beloved perish, stung by the daggers
                    swarming his head like wasps? She’d have to,
                    in order to save her mortal enemy,

                    for if he died, the borders between hell and earth
                    would erode (something about an amulet — long story — )
                    and she’ll have delivered apocalypse by cosmic c-section.

                    What kind of legacy is that to leave the world?

A soprano takes the stage. Burgundy silk burnished
with applause. Curt smile cut short as she assumes the role:

                the witch who’d been scattered in brief interludes throughout the season
                is revealed to have manipulated the situation —

              — Look around — this place is littered with the bodies of the slain.

              --If you people did not want this, you would not have called it down.

All the bows shiver as the momentous intro rises —

              —What…what do you mean?

              The hallmark villainess smirk before
              she opens her mouth in a perfect o—

— the first notes quiver like nervous kisses
and the aria’s released — language hooking a perfect wave

cupped towards the spray of harmonics hugging the shore.
And the filament of grief grafted to your nerves hums.

              And we’re back to the oilfields’ effulgent dread.

              That sheen is the blood of old wars
              seeping through the soil.

              The thrum of giant pistons heralds the coming light
              and the cloud at the center of the shockwave.

              We know what happens next, that satiny light —
              so terrifying yet it allures —

              —What a pathetic world. Is this the best you could do?

A rattle signals the twinkle of deadly spores,
then thunder of warheads like timpani and cymbals.

              Our heroine tunes it out as she’s been trained by the telepaths
              -- that trio of countertenors. She plucks an axe
              from the floor and prepares to throw when the walls
              crack and pebbles rain down

and the chandeliers swing from the rafters of Symphony Hall.

Your neighbor grabs your arm — what’s happening?
Earthquake, you reply. What else?

The soprano steadies herself against the concert grand
while the strings and horns swarm off the stage, a hive
of one mind. You’re certain a chandelier or chunk of ceiling
won’t fall on you so you stay put, watch the others
make for the exits, falling down with each tremor --
would that rhythm be adagio?

She wanders the stage, gown tattered by falling debris,

              deranged by the machete-edged lament—

              —Despite your insistence, you know nothing of God.

              The last line slipped through her mental block.

              She knows it’s true but it doesn’t get her.
              She’s skilled at maintaining hope.

              The thing about saving the world is once
              you’ve done it, you know it can be done.

              Already the aria crumbles, libretto and score
              rent to shrapnel — its architecture can’t sustain itself
              without someone being seduced.

The maestro stumbles on stage, the crumbling walls
dust his tux just as the last lights go out. He reaches
out to steady the soprano while something heavy falls
on the piano, sounding discord as darkness sweeps in —

              There’s a duel, of course, with swords,
              a succession of impossible kicks and punches,
              lethal acrobatics — the leaps and twirls of a finely honed rage
              and the urge for justice ends with a demon’s beheading.

In the dark, in the perfumed and velvet-lined confusion
of the Hall, you can make out faint purple light,
twilight, outside, just through the emergency exits.
There’s a breeze, the slamming of car doors —

              — and it’s done. The witch has run, sure to return
              another day. The enemy gasps, wounded
              but alive while her beloved lay, brow
              throat and chest studded with the opulent daggers.

              His blood will stain the stairs with heartbreak,
              but the world won’t end today.

Once into the evening, despite the crowd, the random sirens,
it’s quiet and dark. A few headlights here and there, but most
extinguished quickly to save on batteries and fuel.

The city just a shadow nestled in some hills. Above it the dance of
warriors and their enemies, satellites, a space-station.

The astronauts don’t know the ending so don’t spoil it.

If they looked now, they’d see a darkened stage where we brace
for aftershocks. The news crackles from car-radios.