National Poetry Month Day 12: “Dear Empire” by Oliver de la Paz


Dear Empire,

These are your murders. I’m not one to speak of atonement, given my sins are expressly for you. Given night’s easy wound and your own scar. Given the smell of old papers, the broken figurine you’ve placed on the mantle. In this humidity, I make the repairs at night.

I forget the knick-knacks in my room. It is not a storefront window. It does not light up and the walls are a problem. Some days, men sleep beneath my awning on beds of rags. Some days, no rain.

The nude reclining is missing his shoulder. The books have fallen from a lack. They lie instead of lean.

When I find the last piece of the man, you will be gone. You will back the car over the gravel. The treads will leave divots in the driveway. I will not wake up, having busied myself all night. The soft ping of a stone from a tire will not stir me. Nor will the record of the body, its hand over its face, the shoulder quite gone.

Oliver de la Paz

Oliver de la Paz is the author of three collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2001, 2007), and the forthcoming Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010), winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada. He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Asian American Poetry and serves on the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Board.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →