IN PRAISE OF STANDARD MEASURE


Sure, the War with Mexico tainted
the acre forever, now associated
with expansionist agenda, but recall
the Northwest Territory's sober
and industrious partitions: its plots
and subplots, homesteads and acreages,
its oddly shaped long-lots passed
down from the French parsing of the land
skirting the five lakes we'd call
Great, whittling down the expanse
with our own uneven measures. Meters
and kilograms and centiliters never
wheedle their way into our conversations,
then or now: our wagons hitched
to the ounce and even the dram,
because inside that ounce sixteen
drams and a little more. Whitman praised
America down to the square yard, down
to the foot, down to every cubic inch,
as would I if only this country
wouldn't go to war. What to tell
the brute who whomped the little first
grade mischievist when the big boy
says he acted preemptively, that the kid
was going to beat him up later anyway
so he just got to him first. It's
a silly thing, a simple thing, I know,
but what else to do if my country's,
or at least my government's, an ill-
fitting suit, a tad tight in the seat,
a bit constraining around the chest
as if the suit had been tailored
for a body with an empty space where
the left lung's third lobe would be.


Jorge Sánchez



SONNET FOR ELIZABETH

I've slept with five other people now
in this bunkhouse, while you've slept
alone, with no one else at all except
the bugs, in a far-off mountain town.
This is not to make you jealous: each
one stays in his or her own bunk, steady-
sleepers, snorers, talkers, while I'm up reading
in the laundry room by the bottle of bleach.
See, it's not that you're alone, and a long
way off: it's that I'm surrounded in a house
on a hill, and I've lost the sound of the only word
that fits. Days the sun hangs, an obnoxious gong,
but nights the pasture air fills with fireflies,
the sky singing that you're the name of the world.


Jorge Sánchez
JORGE SANCHEZ recently received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. His work has appeared twice before in The Adirondack Review and was published or is forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, Puerto del Sol and Nidus. He lives and is trying to work in Chicago.
The Adirondack Review