Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Subterfuge

by Juan Morales

 

In the wreckage of mission accomplished,

Pizarro, Almagro, and other leaders sorted

gold and silver into equal shares.

Seated, they became children

devouring unknown delicacies

described only by eccentric adults.

They recalled how hopeless steps

guided them through vacant stomachs

and cracked lips to victory.

Their gambles paying off.

 

They gorged on exaggerated chunks

stuck between gnashing, stumbled

fits of laughter. The men counted jewels twice

and debated plundered relics

from palaces and shrines.

 

They pre-enacted a president

posturing behind a podium on an aircraft carrier,

dark suit and blood red tie.

He’s posed with thumbs-up in front of

the “Mission Accomplished” banner

on a stars and stripes backdrop

with flag-draped coffins piling

out of view and stacks of

condolence letters to stamp.

We jeered the President,

 

but in the case of conquistadors,

no one snapped the ironic picture

of men snaking spoils

into hidden pockets whenever comrades

blinked. They embraced, ready

to dream of being old, rich men because

that’s what they were supposed to do.