San Francisco, 1987
He has become a different type of man
Now that the plague assaults him, friend by friend,
Finding resolve in each shake of a hand
To battle the immune cell to the end.
He does not like that statue's Greek physique
These days, its contours just lifelike enough
To be the man he visited last week,
Two years ago a swaggerer in love.
The moments dripping slowly from his life
In spinal taps and blood-draws fill his bed
With sweat. Who will there be beside his wife
Alive to sit and talk with of the dead?
History offered her no hiding place
From where the fingers of a dead white God
Upon the throat of her red bloodied race
Had tried to break her neck into a nod.
Far from the grassy ghetto called a home
With the clichés that no one really owns
Surrendering a ghost, as trite as rhyme,
She cast the die that rolls like deadmen's bones.
The blood may still be dripping from the rock,
The mind of these late days red white and bruised,
But she had foodstamps, not a tomahawk
And now wears shameful feathers to amuse
Them. She is calm. The buffalo bends to feed
And bears in its huge heart a raw stampede.
A.Z. Foreman is a literary translator, finance translator and language teacher pursuing a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the Ohio State University. He received his B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Chicago, and his M.A. in Arabic language from the University of Maryland. His translations from Arabic, Russian, Old English, Welsh and Classical Chinese have appeared in sundry anthologies, journals and one BBC radio broadcast. He divides his time between the bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen.