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Norte

Along the dense extremities of the forest north

that advance across the Panamanian isthmus,

ancient bridge for mustang, panther, and bear,

the trunks of towering andirobas intertwine

interminably in unfettered mahogany abandon.

Their barks are host to a protean foxfire that

radiates iconographic images in a flowing

expressionist relief of mythic proportions.

Travelers who venture this trek witness

these mutations and are soon transfixed.

Denied hopes coalesce, enrapture the weary.

Anguished women cradle the luminous souls

of dead babies and old friends half forgotten

in this swirling meccano of empires and loves.

The wasted alternatives of life are unveiled.

Though indios and neobiologists urge them

to flee the hypnotic force of such coercions,

these errant pilgrims prostrate themselves in

a mad chorus of wails and call the forest wall

Mural del Dios Verde, Mural of the Green God.

Sur

Along the avaricious trail of the forest south,

to the steep windswept cliffs of Patagonia

that rise ragged above rock-strewn beaches,

the emerald hunger stretches farther still

to taint the freezing waters off Cape Horn.

The winds that rake these seas now blow

from the north, warm, fragrant with pollen,

as if the forest could root on the icy cap.

Glassine flounder and neon frogs rain down

to pummel the decks of passing steamers.

But the gun-crack calving of melting bergs

and the slow thaw that extends the seas' reach

expose no sure foothold for the forest to claim.

Even the shapeshifting woohli has yet to adapt

to the rough hibernal currents of this ocean.

The polar mariners who sail this route watch

the skies, cross themselves, shake their heads,

wonder if the next storm will be even stranger.

Beneath their breaths they curse the forest as

El Diluvio del Diablo, The Deluge of the Devil.

Este

Along the clawing tendrils of the forest east

that cloak the Amazon and its serpentine

tributaries—Madeira, Jacunda, Japurá—

once thriving passages for trade and travel,

only the most bestial of tribes now survive.

At dusk from the hills of Macapá and Belém

you can see the flicker of their campfires

against the gravid green of a dark horizon.

In less than a generation they have morphed

with the forest and are no longer human.

Forging a symbiosis with the force that

rules their world, some are viridescent,

mimicking the foliage that surrounds them.

Others, covered with bony plates, often

prey on all fours like porcine armadillos.

From Caracas in the North to the ramshackle

slums of Rio and São Paulo and Buenos Aires,

those who remain in the coastal enclaves call

the forest Creación Oscura, Dark Creation,

El Enfermo, Diseased One, Salvaje, Savage.

Oeste

Along the sweltering frontiers of the forest west,

striping the Andean foothills with wide shadows

and blanketing their no longer snowy heights,

the spikes of thousand-meter bromeliads sway

like the minarets of an organic metropolis.

The great reaches of flora that line these

slopes seem to roar in their rushing before

opening the cores of their inflorescence and

clasping entire settlements in a snap embrace.

A tenderizing mucilage bathes their spoils.

Those who flee this furious onslaught take

refuge in the lightless swamplands below and

return to pay homage, seeing these carnivorous

plants as rampant evolution running in reverse,

mankind succoring and serving the landscape.

The pathetic pageantry of their stark display

culminates in a sacramental sharing of pulcre,

an hallucinogen brewed from this succulent.

Stray revelers whisper the forest's name as

La Bestia Caprichosa, The Capricious Beast.

Profundidades

In the impermeable fortress of the forest depths,

where each generation of growth destroys the last,

where each generation of fauna devours the last,

a sentience amoral and earthly dreams that the

only word for forest is el Mundo, the World.




Bruce Boston is the author of forty-seven books and chapbooks, including the novels The Guardener's Tale and Stained Glass Rain. His writing has received the Bram Stoker Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Asimov's Readers Award, and the Grand Master Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. You can read more about him at www.bruceboston.com and see some of his previous work in our archives.
Robert Frazier is the author of eight previous books of poetry, and a three-time winner of the Rhysling Award for poetry. He has won an Asimov's Reader Award and been on the final ballot for a Nebula Award for fiction. His books include Perception BarriersThe Daily Chernobyl, and Phantom Navigation (2012). His 2002 poem "A Crash Course in Lemon Physics" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Recent works have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Dreams & Nightmares, and Strange Horizons. His long poem "Wreck-Diving the Starship" was a runner-up for a 2011 Rhysling Award. He can be reached by email at raf@nantucket.net.
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