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  • Lucian Mattison

Election Day

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

Image courtesy of Neil Moralee

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