The Impropriety of the Hours
—after Cesar Vallejo's "La violencia de las horas"
The whole habitus has gone up in flames.
N. went up in flames: SHE, the bird-throated one, who cruised chat rooms and cooked jamush in the market on a kerosene lamp.
The mullah, G., combusted in a whoosh: HE, with the eyes of green tile, who loved the songs of boys in the madras, even as he scolded and shushed.
The red-haired one, K., became a fire fountain: SHE, with the plastic tree of buttons and business cards, who left behind a four-month-old, who died without skin, floating in a plastic tub of melted ice, on the following day.
My sister-in-law, A., bizarrely flashed and vanished in brilliant light: SHE, of the yapping kennel of beings behind her mud house, and it was so sudden, like a search hit, while she bathed a brown dog who was bigger than she, sad dog of the mad doctor Dr. M., who'd renounced his Muslim name, and exploded in his bed, as he was weeping himself to sleep.
The young man with no legs and glass eye, whose name almost no one knew, though they called him S., became a hundred-foot flame: HE, who muttered the poems of Abu Nuwas, day after day, sitting in antique leather chair, with lawn-mower wheels, in front of tin shop of the watchmaker B., who also blew up, while tapping tiny gold hammer to tiny gold wheel.
J. burned slowly: HE, the blue-skinned dwarf, with a thing for Tom Cruise, for he gathered wild leeks on the outskirts of town, and when he was found he presented intact, so perfectly white, though the smoke that did drift from his eyes was the color of his skin, in his strange life.
My grieving brother, D., shot columns of fire-jelly out his bottom and mouth: HE, the clown on the side, in the peace of thighs, and the joy of small blogs, whom children would laugh at and mock, but who would fall silent, the children, at his fist-sized tears, making his the face they'd recall, when it faintly rained and the young thistles were in bloom.
My brother-in-law R., who was just visiting from An Najaf, became a sudden and inexplicably small puff of smoke: HE, of the Bedouin revolver and the cufflinks and the saws, which like my sister and her husband became confused with him by chance in a single dark thing, the three of them and the things, joined like a caravan spied from above, a digital smudge, in a valley of dull rocks, in a month of great heat, and in six unending years.
The hip-hop fan, M., dissolved like half a million into the great bonfire he became: HE, gigantic by the measure of our race, skull-faced, with stutter, who made people clap their ears, even as they gazed in stupor and awe, for it was he who called to prayer from the minaret, and it was said that such paradox was from God, was connected to the miraculous productivity of the hens of our town, who stopped their clucking at his call, and laid eggs that were translucent and huge.
Yes, the whole town has gone up in flames, and I am speaking of it now, inappropriately, in the on-line light, of this fun avant life.