The streetlamps of this city

suffer deeply at dawn.

Up so high

they cannot take their gaze

from the hustling workers

and every morning they would like

to free the fresh heart

imprisoned in the sandwiches

under their arms.

The acrid smoke of the first cigarettes

silences the sparrows in the park,

alarms the ill-natured pidgeons under the eaves.

The cuddly little children

still sleeping do not know

that they are condemned

to open their eyes again and again,

until the purple flow of the days

freezes their eyelids forever.

Don't bother to look for the cathedral in this city.

Don't bother to ask where the museum is,

no one will understand your peculiar question.


You are in pharmacy-land."

They are the outstanding feature

of our humble geography.

Right there we citizens meet

keeping our souls sheltered,

Right there we eat the whitest bread

and drink the whitest wine,

and thus fortified, renewed,

emboldened we face down

the endlessly attacking malevolent rain.


Train like veins

cross us from head to toe.

We sweat oil and thick grease

like motors:

semen, a dark seed

on the blackest skin of tar.


We sleep

in weak vending-machine coffee

and in the many factory dreams

glass scratches our arms.

the tiny skeletons of rats

fill with explosions and noise,

mushrooms flourish around them.

The elevators' damp speed

hoists the mold of a thousand blind things

onto the back of time.

Don't wait here for spring.

We always have winter here,

and the cemetery in the middle of town

is our most fertile of vegetable gardens.

Here, too, the truth of the sidewalk

drowns in a plaster of lies.


(c) Xabier Montoia