Peter Campion – Return Trip from the Ruins

photo credit: Zyllan Fotografia


Peter Campion
Return Trip from the Ruins

A smear of birds of paradise.
Tin roofs and roadside shrines.
Then, who would stick it there? and why?
spray-painted skeleton on particle board.

Our driver mumbles “Guarda Civil
who sometimes stopping
passengers to steal.”

Maybe I know the Testimonies
(“after they stripped our wives
they made us bring the children”)
but his minivan
swerving beneath lush canopies
feels safe as home.

Hours pass and he taps
my arm and points to the radio.
“Very bad man who kills my friend
and today [he crooks his fingers
round his neck] la horca.”
So the hanging
was broadcast?
which would sound like?

Maybe I’m the same
person I am now:
wanting to see myself
the good guy in the movie
but the wanting shows.

Whatever reason, though: I nod and he turns
the dial and nothing comes.


Except this nothing
was the sharpest
simmering hiss: as if a life itself
he had me incline toward
straining to discern
what revelation in that sibillant
and microsonic language. And afterward
all I remember’s
the checkpoint, one Quonset hut
they shunted me through
as some German hippies
(one of the women hawk-like, beautiful)
sat detained on a low bench
and ordering them
to empty their backpacks
now take those boots off now
lie down
the guard articulated everything
with jabs and swivels of the barrel of his
Bushmaster AR-15.