Luis Francia

dapper idler in a bar,
coffee drinker in a diner,
hard-bitten lout on a corner,
wide-eyed child, queen in her stroller,
old man proud of his gun,

death looks us over every second of
every minute of every hour of
every day, and wonders why we
rush to oblivion when
oblivion rushes towards us.

For the Lovers in Fallujah

and the red flees for the sea

and the corner with its back against the
pockmarked wall cries out to the coroner
in the hall, there’s a dead girl in my arms,

whose singing was her glory and her charm.
and the sleuth asked, which way, of the door
that swung both ways against the uproar

of the furniture tearing up the floor, in
protest against the dead, against the pale
grey and the color of lead and the red that

flees for the sea, and the girl’s wounded lover,
the two no longer turning in their mutual
yearning, for one is dead and the other dying,

dead and dying on account of a
country they knew  nothing about.
which way did their young hopes go

devoid now of the red, what sort of dread
did they know, which dreams did they let go?
an open and shut case, said the door to

the hall, said the wall to the floor, said the
grieving mothers to the earth, whispering, to
hold them where no government can touch

them, exiles from themselves.
In cities of the dust neither bullet nor
ballot matters, nor muezzin call, for

in the democracy of the grave
can they now being full citizens
raise the flag of their love

even as the red flees forever for the sea


Luis Francia
Luis Francia

Luis H. Francia is the author of Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago. His poetry collections include The Beauty of Ghosts; Museum of Absences; and The Arctic Archipelago and Other Poems. His “Oblivion” and “For the Lovers in Falluja,” included in this issue, are from a manuscript in progress, Tattered Boat. He teaches at New York University, Hunter College, and the City University of Hong Kong. A Queens resident, he is very much a part of the 99 percent.