David Plumb

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We Have Got to Sit Down

Have it out, draw up a new budget
I’m almost tapped, I need space
Love or not
I’ve said this before
Now I mean what I say
We have problems here
You parked in front of the TV
The politics, the news drives me nuts
Locked in suburbia, Blankland
Never mind the driving 
The price of gas, the neighbors hobbling
To the mailbox or the mall
The mindlessness of golf carts
Slithering here and there
How the hell does one get up?
Never mind keep it up          
No pun intended
Turn the damn TV off and listen
Don’t tell me I don’t understand
I’ve been around the block
I’m telling you this is it
I’m tossing out the guest room bed
To make a studio
Buy an easel, paint brushes
And it better happen soon
Or I’m out of here, out of State
Hell, Canada sounds great
Because love is not enough
It just isn’t
We got to put something in the sock
The washer and dryer work fine
Yes, I understand
Enough already and well, of course
I’ll run down and get a loaf
Of bread and turkey
Sliced thin?


You take the train from Mexico City to Merida
and the train back to Palenque
arrive in early morning, hot, dusty and tired
wait by the cross roads in the boiling sun.
Horses rear, a cacophony of dialects fly everywhere.
The bus finally arrives with fifty plus
passengers and you get stuffed in the aisle.

You step off at the zocolo at Palenque
to the liquado stand for a sandia milkshake
and huevos revueltos at the nearby café.
Then a bus up to the ruins on the hottest day
you have known in years, where flies skate on air
and a parrot walks the tienda pole upside down.

You climb the Temple of the Inscriptions
and down to the tomb where cameras click
at removed bones, where only the spirit remains.
You stand atop the temple and if you listen
a conch blows nations of lost languages, outrageous sacrifices
bigger pyramids and the clearing of great forests.
Below a young man with a beard looks up at you
and says, “Hey Man, this is just like Detroit.”

Now you remember the long train crossing Coatzacoalcos
Streams ran yellow, the horizon died in unspeakable haze.
Campesinos toiled amid certain death.
You smelled the poison. You saw the greedy stink

so far out of reach your tears could not wash it.
Remember how cool the train seemed?
Could you have dreamed or even dared
to think nitrogen scabs and sulfur baked in sun
and cooked in rain had begun covering the temples
erasing time, corroding the plumed serpent
the seated woman, the back of man?

Today you swim in the small pool
far below the Temple of the Cross
with a young girl from Cuernavaca
She burns your heart with innocence
She dips a hand in the water and brings up
tiny stones she swears have been there forever .
She takes you to the vines above the Temple of the Cross
She kisses you and runs down the tall grasses
down the hill where you are afraid she might fall
but you know that she will not

Now you have seen the light burn
in the howler monkey’s drum
in scarab, brujo and jaguar.
Burn beneath the blood of stones and straw
Burn in the song of maize
Burn in the distant plains
Burn beyond the great yawn of history
Burn in the running girl’s eyes


David Plumb has worked as a paramedic, cab driver, cook, tour guide, and adjunct professor.  He volunteers for The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project and is past director for a homeless shelter and The Intersection Poetry Project of San Francisco.. Will Rogers said, "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip." Plumb says, "It depends upon the parrot."