Michael Homolka

Indian Country

Along the telegraph
lines at night     Napoleon
goes gallivanting

under his breath      This isn’t
the West for which I had hoped

Age of digital radios
come and gone and now
the emperor’s best men

have run off to the silver mines
(bitter roots in a little bath)

Live feeds track
those chilly blue eyes
as natives gather

by their monitors     newest
on the Nebraska frontier

where the emperor plans
to make his famed
decision on the future

of touchscreen conquest
Look at his eyelids

twitch at the news
(same old)     Two regulars
found entwined in a tent

French deck and front-loaders and each
of their brains burst open

Images of ocean blue
each alkali plain disappoints
Clickable maps already a joke

the sky crusts over as some
volunteer leans close     (added later

in neat blue ink)     Again
the enemy have stolen our horses
and left us these hoof prints in snow

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Conquest

The sweat from Montezuma’s
long distance message runners     sprinting post
to post in the night preserves itself

Tents of the world’s childhood rip apart
into too many people who don’t
like to listen     Ferdinand     Díaz     Cortez

go on pooling their thoughts
era after era in the face of the 8-track
Goonies     Wi-Fi     cable

Spiritual matter     meanwhile
feels something     its membrane gives
slightly at the keeping of diaries

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Valley of the Kings

They remember our number
those same lawyer-faced
babies as before

backstroking casually
along the celestial sphere
plucking out jewels

Harmless silo cluster
we are no longer
all those spirited

debates on the literalness
of the Eucharist
left off     where again?

Faced with the art
of the fleeting obsession
jockish models

grinding celebrities
and imagining ourselves capable
of similar ascendencies

deaths as light and
as angelic     I think I might
row back partway

and cry Fuck you
against this flaccid life
What do we do anyway

but dodge the occasional     (albeit
slightly more lackluster)
beam flicked down upon us

in defunct annunciation?
Dumb grain town
lidding over adolescents

alongside the cerements
for guidance     we will
say     in the afterlife

 


Michael Homolka's first collection, Antiquity, won the 2015 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry and is available from Sarabande Books. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, and Poetry Daily, among others. He currently teaches low-income high school students in New York City.