Poems by Michael Hogan
Published in issue 40 of The Ofi Press
The moon fades over Arizona and the morning sun is more dangerous.
Even the rain when it finally falls is no friend to man
or woman either.
Toads cry like lost children when the torrent ceases
and flash floods drain from arroyos in swirls of mist
drifting past homeless camps and shattered dreams.
There was a time when this was bearable
when the moon was closer in Arizona
when the Church gave sanctuary to exiles and immigrants
when Hohokam danced out under open skies
snakes rattled a clear warning for all
and good gringos spoke in soft Spanish vowels.
We’ve been born in the wrong century:
ramshackle houses on the outskirts
deliver their children to a legal snarl
that’s nothing more than a catch-all
for the those bronzed by the desert sun.
We see them as we pass on the highways
laboring on chain gangs in pink coveralls
while the High Sheriff, unapologetic and fascist,
leaches his poison into the political soil.
It doesn’t seem so long ago when
the moon was closer in Arizona
when lobo mexicano and jaguar roamed free across Sonora
when there were no walls, no barbed wire,
when people did not mistake love of this brown land
for love of a flag over a border checkpoint.
Now the children of their children
books stolen by politicians, grandmothers’ histories erased
struggle to learn the words of an alien race:
The moon was closer over Arizona. Say it!
La luna estaba tan cerca sobre Arizona.
La luna estaba tan cerca.
MICHAEL HOGAN is the author of twenty-two books including the best selling Irish Soldiers of Mexico, the history of the San Patricio Battalion. His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines including the Paris Review, the Harvard Review, New Letters and the American Poetry Review. His work has received two Pushcart Prizes, a PEN Award and an NEA fellowship. He lives in Guadalajara with his wife the fabric artist, Lucinda Mayo and their dog Molly Malone.
Image: "Mt. Lemmon in Orange" by Kevin Dooley.