The old colonel keeps his uniform clean:
his kerchief of revolutionary red,
crisp militia black, the absurd cartoon beak.

Proud, dictatorial, he sits out his days
counting in a grubby run-down hole,
he is shunting the dead and the living

Into clean blue-lined ledgers,
he is working through the long division
of his shotgun jungle republic

With border and junta, breaking
the shanty towns, corpses, tradewinds
into clean fractions, dashing the old maps

With new horizons. He claps his bill,
maniacal, tallies huts and hacked limbs,
the heads of dark-skinned women,

Corrals of them cut down like cane,
the floral-dressed, the modest
green screen of coconut and balsawood,

That leaf-striped territory, he skips ahead,
loses place, starts again, swallowing
each dusty isolate street of cola billboards

And mango stalls in a vast nihilistic surge,
all names addresses faces erased.
All hail our cannibal Caesar,

One bird a nation of the missing
in the macheted ferns and quashed nests,
the dark tribunal of the trees.