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El Parque del Dominó

                     for Gerald Stern
 
It’s Old World, with its openness
like a piazza, but it’s American
too: old men sitting around playing
dominoes, smoking twenty-five cent
tabacos they bought at La Carreta,
like those old men in Washington Square
playing chess day after day.
 
It’s a place, like home, like the word
gemütlichkeit: it uncoils, ropey
and certain, and it gently swaddles
your head suggesting there’s nowhere
else and that this balmy day, palms
wobbling in the breeze, the old men
sweating: this is all that really is.
 
I think of you now, Gerald Stern,
smoking your Parodis with Bob
Summers: seizing and judging every
-thing that comes into the range
of your brutal memories, two
delectable Jews, spending your happy
and cunning lives in the honeysuckles,
 
and I think, too, of this reflex
everyone has no matter what
you write or even if you don’t
write anything at all, this motion
to record and take out and lift up
like a cake the place, the smell,
the moment and the years rolled up into
 
some kind of nut, into some kind
of kernel of odor that swells
and rests on the tongue, something
that can be lifted to the face
easily, lightly like an afternoon:
perused, sniffed and –closing your
eyes– described:  Ah.  Yes.  That.
 
 
 

Jorge Sanchez received his MFA from the University of Michigan. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Iowa Review, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, Nimrod, and elsewhere.