Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
print version


Not one nail was used.
A saw and crowbar, bamboo,
nipa, bejuco, my hands,
that was all.

Ten feet by twelve feet—
the world breathed
through my walls.

Once, up in the dorms,
a woman held her child out the window
to urinate in the night
and she showered a guard.
I was not part of the punishment.

I moved to the essentials:
chairs, tables, even shelves
to hold things
bartered and borrowed.
I was a salesman.
We all put our pasts to good use.

What did we have but our minds,
and the histories they cradled?
As months passed, we formed
schools, a baseball league,
choirs, a theatre club.

We smelled each others’ piss
and rot. Our quarrels were not
our own. Some fell out of love.
A priest fell in.
All around us, neighbors died.

And still we built.
We built things to last.  end

return to top