Mercedes, Supermercados and silk suits
multiply on the streets of Quito,
the Avenidas of Guayaquil.
Tongues of fire lick the night sky.


Along the north shore of Rio Napo
the river birds are all dressed up
in black with nowhere to go.
They stagger like drunks, tripping
over their own feet, their eyes
glazed, their wings, their plumage,
fused under the crude sheen
of coal gloss in the sun, then
they collapse and just lie there,
twitching, more and more
weakly until they sink
into the silence of wet clay.


Miles downstream,
a boy from the Secoya tribe
strips, dives into the cool water,
swims for a while, then floats
on his stomach, watching
nothing but the green satin
light flow over stones
and when he feels
clean he crawls across
the current, climbs up the bank
and stands, a dripping sandalwood
Ephebe against the jungle
shade, barely a trace
of hair around his genitals,
until darkness shrinks the field
of his vision and he moans, falls
to the grass and the river
takes his breath, his voice
where it will not be heard again.

George Amabile has published twelve books and has had work in over a hundred national and international venues, including The New Yorker, Poetry (Chicago), American Poetry Review, Botteghe Oscure, The Globe and Mail, The Penguin Book of Canadian Verse, Saturday Night, Poetry Australia, Sur (Buenos Aires), Poetry Canada Review, and Canadian Literature. His most recent publications are a long poem, Dancing, with Mirrors (Porcupine’s Quill, 2011), Small Change (Fiction, Libros Libertad, 2011) and Martial Music (poetry, Signature Editions, 2016) all of which have won the prestigious Bressani Award, and an International Crime novel, Operation Stealth Seed (Signature Editions, 2019) which won the Michael von Rooy award for genre fiction.