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The Former Slaughterhouse at Villa Epecuen

by Keith Dunlap

Among a stand of long dead trees
bleached white by the intense salinity
of flood waters that consumed the town,
a road built in the seventies still winds around
the former slaughterhouse at Villa Epecuen.
For twentyfive years, local fish and eels have passed
through windows filled with shadow now instead of glass
and around the abandoned art deco tower
and the enormous block letters spelling “Matadero.”
But now the scabrous edifice sits alone;
its plaster surfaces peeling and its facade collapsed,
like a skindiseased bather come to take the cure,
who, waiting by the roadside, isn’t sure
whether she has missed the last bus back to Carhué.

Dante Gabriel Rosetti to Elizabeth

by Keith Dunlap

I have entombed my love poems to you
in the moldering casket of your heart.
Yet I keep returning to the plot of grass,
keep mumbling the halfforgotten phrases out loud,
haunted by visions of decomposition,
under an evening sky of purpling clouds.
As the flesh creeps back from the sockets around your eyes,
your soft hair dries into angel hair kindling,
and your wedding ring loosens on your bony finger.
After seven years, I cannot take it any longer,
and break every solemn vow I have ever made,
hire common laborers to dig through the soft dirt to your grave,
casting aside all sentiment, sweating with nervous pride,
to steal once again what you treasured best,
the manuscript of my devotion from your lifeless breast.

The Abandoned Psychiatric Hospital

by Keith Dunlap

What is it that is left behind
to remind us of what occupied this place?
Cracked plaster, broken glass, and peeling paint,
a colorless industrial gray mottled
by grime, mold, moisture, and decay,
so that there is no sign, no trace
of order sanitarily imposed
on the once defiant exiles of the human race.
The rubble of a roof cavedin by its own sodden weight,
and a quiet and an emptiness large enough to contain
the numberless incommensurable souls.
No matter what complaints or wretched laughter
used to resound within these semisolid walls;
no matter what singular thoughts used to echo
within the chambers of the inmate’s brains,
at the end of a life of secrets it is the silence that remains,
and shafts of stale penetrating light that expose
a discarded mop handle and a piece of garden hose.


by Kathleen Ellis


In this place where the wind

from the sun gives way to the wind

from the stars

the Earth waits for its guests

to return to her

to lie on her sandy beaches

to summit her peaks

to speak her 6,900 languages

to master just one

to make up for lost time

to beg the question

to accept the kindness of strangers

recalling the few times

you have paused

before you leaped through air,

knowing whatever

boundaries you push, you are drawn

back to the earth you live on.