Featured Poem

 

“How many islands does your country have?”

It depends, so goes the joke,
on whether the tide is high or low.

The tide, then, must be high now,
for when you surmise
in our direction, all you see
is a mere patch of ocean
southeast of China.

Should typhoons rage over
our region, they’ll find
no denuded mountains to devour.
We have neither copper nor coral,
no pineapples or coconut wine—
nothing conquistadors
could ever have stolen.

No sinuous verses have ever
been spoken. No volcanoes
erupt, burying nameless towns
in layers of lava and ash. No corrupt
mayors reside in plantations
guarded by armalite-bearing
phantoms.

Only imaginary numbers
scavenge reeking objects
orphaned from their nouns.
The tide never turns,
even as every ghost drowns.

~from Present Values by José Edmundo Ocampo Reyes

*Winner of the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award, New England Poetry Club