Election Day

August 4, 2017


Cordoba, Argentina 


If we woke to water rot,  

fallen oak crossbeam  

bisecting the breakfast table, 


a nest of ants shattered  

like a chandelier on tile,  

I could hardly fault the architect.  


They eat insulation, hollow  

out the roof, bring water  

and mountain cold with them. Each day  


this month passes between  

a condor’s beak, strings  

hours with a sewing needle. 


The shopkeeper sells beef milanesa  

by the yard, our neighbor’s bee 

son pisses in his lover’s bed  


and for the third time  

blames the dog. Tio Carlos  

keeps saying, “honesty  


is a jail cell, crooks the wardens,”  

as election ads preen television screens 

with images of grandmothers, 


rolling Pampa. We feel ants  

crawl among the hairs  

on our ankles as he smokes  


two cigarettes in two minutes,  

kisses me on the cheek  

as if I were a toddler. We mark  


the calendar for every day  

the ants come back, tick today’s box,  

boil a pot of water  


to pour between the rafters,  

knowing full well  

of the damage the solution demands— 


how it smokes in spring  

like false fire on the tin.  

We each grip a pot  


with oven mitts. He climbs the ladder, 

“crooks the wardens,”  

under his breath. Boiling  


water rolls over the eaves  

like sheet glass. A thin line scorches  

a perimeter surrounding the house,  


as if slowly cutting us out  

of the country like a torn elbow patch,  

dead ants in lines.  




"Election Day" by Lucian Mattison is the winner of Puerto del Sol's 2016 Poetry Contest


Argentinean-US poet and translator, Lucian Mattison, is the author of two books of poetry, Reaper's Milonga (YesYes Books, forthcoming) and Peregrine Nation (Dynamo Verlag, 2017). His poetry, short fiction, and translations appear in numerous journals including Hayden's Ferry Review, Hobart, Muzzle, Nano Fiction, The Nashville Review, The Offing, and Waxwing. He currently works at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, and edits poetry for Big Lucks. Visit Lucianmattison.com


Image courtesy of Neil Moralee

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