Morning is close,
because the bodies are lined up at the corners
in Little Havana, like roots that have buckled the sidewalks
and grown into denim and dusty flannel,
huddling around nothing, not even fire:
a low static of moon
and everything else is shadow.
Old wind and the howl of strays,
a scent of rum and caramelized sweat
that won’t wash out,
and the empty pickups rolling in.
The gringo drivers with their fingers
out the windows calling
two, three, all,
and the bodies go.
Bones and musculature to their scaffolds,
to their trowels and lumberyards,
to the unfinished, unrealized places,
while the city comes at last awake,
starving, savage, a beast
that must invent a language out of these men
or never speak at all.
Julio Machado, a Cuban-American poet who lives in Miami, has been published in the Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere.