Letter from Dakar

beginning with a line by Fernando Pessoa

It is night. It’s very dark. In a house far away
a red sun has drained into the sea.
From the city I left, the cold changed direction
over continents, became a season of heat
in a single night. I don’t remember a time
of departure, the titles of books I intended
to bring, or the last meal I ate. Palm leaves
prowl the walls. The only light comes from
the nearest shore where piles of garbage
are lit on fire, flames bright and …


for my birth father

Low creature, I appear at your door,
possum or rat having rifled through garbage,
or a small child sent outside digging
under the house when I belonged


Stuttering a language not my own on streets

named after American presidents, I ask passing face

after passing face, where, where … Such tight
mouths and hunched figures pestered by losses

petty or …