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Paul Perry: Two Poems
Slowly Home | A Cemetery Outside Chetumal

Slowly Home

take the third train East
use no whips or spurs
but a gentle whisper
to encourage the driver

say good-bye to all you’ve known
but slowly, you have time
don’t talk to your taxi
or pretend to be someone else

if the old guy takes you
on a detour, say nothing
smile politely, if you should
arrive in a strange land

where people no longer talk the tongue
you once knew, simply nod
and thank your fare
do not ask for directions

the stars obviously are not themselves
the headlines you suspect are a decoy
people leer at you conspiratorially
if you walk the streets

and you do not recognize them
no matter, if you happen
to stumble into a back-garden
weakly resembling a photograph

you once carried in your wallet
welcome the place with open arms
and the family that come now to greet you
take them, too, as your own

A Cemetery Outside Chetumal

the sun calls shadows
into dull salmon coloured walls
telegraph poles topple the sky

the longer the dead have been here
the faster you need to walk
Chac’s face burns

through the battered sanguine gate
dusty angels laugh
our footprints away

echoes of themselves
hyacinth blue tombs
bloom in clay

words catch
in your throat
we’re incidental and I know

what you’re going to say:
save yourself
the sky storms, a red totem

admit it we’re lost
and in more ways than one
walking up and down

like dumb clowns
scared out of our wits
for a rainstorm

while in the hills
there are more deaths
than you claim your bones have borne

Poet's Biography:
  Paul Perry won the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award in 1998. He has been a James Michener Fellow of Creative Writing at The University of Miami, and a C. Glenn Cambor Fellow of Poetry at The University of Houston. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry Ireland Review, The Hawai’i Review, The Drunken Boat, and The Best American Poetry 2000. Currently he serves as Writer in Residence in Co. Longford, Ireland, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief to The He is the author of The Drowning of The Saints, and Seven Days in Chicago. You may contact him at

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