Near an Air Force Base

Ernesto Trejo

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August. 105 in the shade.
In a field we watch the bombers
taking off and landing.
The heat over the valley
is a virus going slowly
about its business.
We sit on a fence. Between us
and these monsters the lust
of cattle is rampant and holy.
A jack rabit ponders
its every move.
To get here we passed old houses,
a chemical plant, a toy factory.
America is busy, says Ray,
sixtyish, veteran of the zoot suit,
and now an expert at judging
perfect take-offs.
Sergio, our irreverent philosopher,
can predict the bombers'
timing and routines.
Someone said, "When the war comes,
Hell, these babies can make it
to Hawaii and be back for lunch."
Someone else said, "No, they'll bomb
Siberia and there will be
a pack of Wheaties
under the pilot's seat."
But soon our talk comes to nothing.
We came because for years
tongues of flame for fields
and villages went out from here,
the pilots high on pills
and reefer.
We came because the mind remembers,
the spirit hungers,
the body aches.

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