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Buenos Aires Deaths

I. La Chacarita

The core of the Southside cemetery
was satiated with yellow fever until it said uncle;
the deep conventicles of the Southside
put death on Buenos Aires' face
and Buenos Aires could not look upon it
so they shoveled you open
far on the west,
behind dirt storms
and the heavy primordial ruck of teamsters.
Naught but the world
and star-habits upon farms,
and a train leaving a Bermejo shed
with the dead and gone:
dead with saggy beards eyes open
dead with heartless flesh magicless.

Death's swindles—dirty as birth—
still multiplying your subsoil thus recruited
with souls, your clandestine bone-heap,
hitting bottom in your interréd night
as if at sea,
death not swallowed up in victory.

A hard vegetation of orts in perdition
is a force against your interminable walls of death,
of hell,
convinced of the corruptible the suburbs
spend their hot life at your feet
in streets shot through with blaze of mire
or knock themselves out with wheeze of squeeze-boxes
bleat of carnival horns.

(Fate's latest forever,
I heard that night your night
when the guitar and the hand
and the words said:
Death is the life you live,
life is death on its way.)

High man on the cemetery totem pole, La Quema
gestures parvenu death to your feet.
Spoils and infection of reality: 210 cartloads
defame each morning, lugging
to this necropolis of smoke
the quotidian things we have contaminated with death.

Outré cupolas of wood and crossed on high
bestir—black chesspieces of a last game—in your streets
and your feeble majesty goes to cover
the shame of your deaths.

In your disciplined quarter
death is colorless, hollow, numerical
and comes down to dates and names,
deaths in a manner of speaking.

sink of this Buenos Aires, final rise,
neighborhood outliving all others, outdying,
lazaret of death and not of life to come,
I have heard your caducous word and disbelieve it,
because your conviction of tragedy is life in action
and a rose full-blown is more than marble.

II. La Recoleta

Death is an affair of honor here,
a demure seaport death,
kith of lasting blessed light
from the Socorro's cloister
and the minutial ash of braziers
and fine sweet birthday milk
and deep dynasties of yards.
They go well with you
old sweetness old rigor.

Your brow is the valorous portico
and a tree's blind generosity
and birds discussing, all unknowing, death
and ruffles, enthusing breasts, of drums
in the military plots;
your shoulder, the tacit conventicles of the North
and the wall of Rosas's executioners.

Feeding on dissolution with marble suffrage
the unrepresentable dead
dehumanized in your darkness
since Maria de los Dolores Maciel, daughter of Uruguay
—sown here for heaven—
slept, so little, in your open country.

I would pause a moment,
your pious commentary of frilly flowers
—yellow soil under the acacias,
commemorative flowers hoisted in your crypts—
sleepy and graceful stays for what reason
joined to the terrible relics of those we love?

Problem posed and answer:
Flowers always watch the dead,
because we know uncomprehendingly
that their sleepy and graceful existence
is the best to go with them
without offense of living,
without being more alive than they.