Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

Borders Have Two Sides

 

Austin led them across the border

in 1822, good people.

He wanted no leatherstockings,

no backwoodsmen, no drunkards,

gamblers, idlers, profane swearers,

just hard-working farmers,

their families, and 443 slaves,

the Old Three Hundred from

Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas,

Tennessee, and Missouri.

Legal immigrants to this northern

desolation of Mexico, for the Mexicans

needed someone to tame

that restless land.

 

                                    Others

followed, not legal, wading across

the river—wandering, tough, grim.

They cleared land and pushed out

natives.  And they brought their music,

their dances with fiddles, their culture,

their language—not accepting Mexican ways.

 

And now the descendants of the welcomed

and not, pushed to the Rio Grande

and on to the Pacific, build fences

and patrol the river, fearing those

southern aliens will come to tame

this restless land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Harbor of Belém

Belém. Pará, Brazil

 

The air above the old harbor of Belém

is stringed like some huge harp

from another cosmos, plaintiff melodies

pitched so high the dogs on the wharves

walk around with ears erect.

 

The gulls and buzzards slide

among that rigging to search

for morsels from the Ver o Peso

tossed overboard or left on deck

or railing unprotected.

 

Once, ships from Manchester

unloaded iron houses, ballast

used to cross the Atlantic,

to free space for rubber

from up the Amazon.

 

Up the street from the old harbor

Paris fashions, cargo with the houses,

have surrendered now to t-shirts

and electronics in the stores’

polished mahogany display cases.

 

The rubber from upriver purchased

the Paris fashions for evenings

at the opera, when buzzards, gulls,

dogs, and Paraenses could hear

music from distant cosmos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clarence Wolfshohl is professor emeritus of English at William Woods University.  He operated Timberline Press for thirty-five years until the end of 2010.  His poetry and creative fiction have appeared  in Concho River Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Colere, Rattlesnake Review, Cenizo Journal, San Pedro River Review, and Melic Review, Houston Literary Review,  Right Hand Pointing  and Red River Review online.  A chapbook of poems about Brazil, Season of Mangos, was published by Adastra Press (2009), and The First Three (2010) and Down Highway 281 (2011) were published by El Grito del Lobo Press.  In Harm’s Way:  Poems of Childhood in collaboration with Mark Vinz was published by El Grito del Lobo Press in early 2013. A native Texan, Wolfshohl now lives with his writing, two dogs and a cat in a nine-acre woods outside of Fulton, Missouri.