Richard Milazzo

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 120 in October, 2009.


Whether pertaining to statues or temples,
Or the populace itself, decapitation
And strangulation, whether by fig trees or soldiers
Or common thieves,

Seem to describe the order of history
And nature itself.
And where armless and legless antiquities
Do not describe the order of the day,

Land mines and leprosy and STDs do –
A kind of generic limblessness
Seems to have taken hold,
A dark corruption of the soul.


And yet, still you build
Your wooden houses and huts
On slender bamboo stilts
On rivers that disappear into history,
And celestial nymphs like reclining buddhas
Or odalisques unfold beneath thatched roofs.
And in the thickest forest and jungle
The faint song of the palm leaf rises up.

Here the auspicious white crocodile
Lingers at the edge
Of the golden grass in Kymerian fields
And laps at the moon.

Victoria Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia, July 23, 2009