INDEPENDENCE DAY: PLAZA DE ARMAS, CUSCO
The Spanish have dismounted and still stand
at attention on the reviewing stand,
four hundred seventy years after riding
in, their tongues rolling R’s of refusal
down the throats of Quechua. Campesinos
circle the square, celebrating what? Low
inflation? A fridge in every mudpacked flat?
Rescue workers in gumdrop-orange suits parade
past, firemen in sci-fi mylar hoods glisten,
a battalion of girls wave bloody flags.
The last Inca, Tupac Amaru, was drawn
and quartered here, four horses’ nostrils blazing.
Now waxed shoes salute stiffly from jeeps, proud
of vanquishing his self-named children plus
the not-so-Shining Path. Camouflaged boys
roll by, cradling rocket launchers like men
on Moche pots gleefully handling gigantic
cocked erections. Machine guns bloom
from seated crotches. Heroes, mestizos: mutts
all conquerors need, rebar for the concrete
of their confiscation. A seen-it-all dog
in a tatty alpaca sweater snoozes
while mirrored shades command Komatsu
dozers. Their motto: Moving Heavy Stones
For Centuries! Bells of the cathedral
clang as flares shoot pink fizzing up only
to come, spent, back to the plaza’s tired arms.
On cracked church steps, sweat and urine.
A lone beggar, moon-eyed, blind, picks
his chiming mountain harp in an alley
under the blare of a goosestepping march—
the army band still squawking up the square.