Lillian Russell, I think of her standing
at the rail of the Niew Amsterdam as it sails
through Caracas to get a taste of the real slums
behind that ring of mountains; and I think
of Mae West beside her and Miss Columbia in
red, white and blue, and a French maid
with a white apron and a little white hat
carrying cocktails. A small boy is there
swimming with the rats
and toasting himself in the broiling sun.
He recognizes Simon Bolivar, Abe
Lincoln and Lillian Russell;
and he adores the Indian squaw
and her husband. Chief Pontiac,
and the loving couple with the
toilet seats around their necks.
He turns to Father Guzman, a Maryknoll
priest whose head was broken
by the National Guard and rubs him
behind the left ear where the swelling is.