Gordon Smedt © 2019

Gordon Smedt © 2019


         by Carlo Matos

Os Malditos, or the Damned, XV.

Ellipses are a species of catastrophe                as in ivy dead              as in ice-cracked stone 
as in apostrophe.
The earth is dirt and the way out and the way back
brake their grip and make the climb over the wall alone like roses.
I’ll never forget how roses came in winter in California,
how I never imagined such a simple thing             how I could still fail an act of innocence
how an Empire can fall            how it can steal our earnestness.
I am earnest about bodies in the street.
I am earnest about children in dog cages.
I am earnest about my desire to destroy.
I am earnest about you.
Where blood mixes with dirt, os malditos raise a city, learn how to modulate
weakness and what ending up interned means,
but only from a distance and that is the important part.
They do not understand those who understand;
they do not worry those who worry and flee.
Their fathers do not bend; their mothers do not wail:
[their perfectly limpid mouths unflexing, the understanding of danger synaptic, utter.]
And maybe their mealy mouths
can tongue long collapsing words
like “civility” as in catalepsis
or “child” as in where is and where are,
but can they learn to resist binding those who love to be bound
and burying those who do not
where blood makes mud for bricks?
Because the sun is big and the earth dirt,
because connecting the dots is no challenge at all,
because that is what being damned means.

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Carlo Matos has published ten books, most recently The Quitters (Tortoise Books). His work has appeared in such journals as Hobart, Rhino, and PANK, among many others. Carlo has received fellowships from Disquiet, CantoMundo, SAFTA, and La Romita. He lives in Chicago and is a professor at Truman College.