On that brittle page, old tyranny
songs were handwritten by orphans
who would stop their gypsy hand
slapping game to find their parents’ faces
in clouds and chimney profiles.
In an evening, they could watch
an old western movie
where VanCleef would stare down
marauding rattlers, snakebiters
waving their offer for credit, vacations,
money to use in any manner.
Wringing their chins,
they won’t be back again, and the children
slumber into a disappearing static.
In the morning, they would find their fathers,
corralled by scorpion-hooked men
leading their blood-nosed dogs.
Draped in snarling vestments,
they march the bankrupt men
through the town.
The derelicts see their children
in brackish water running
between arroyos of cobblestone.
It’s the narrative they imagined:
the one-shot eye of a brutish tourist
spurs their buckets, hangs
in blue steel smoke until the echoes
of reunions fade, and he vanishes.