Doren Robbins

FOR THE LAST OF THE JUMA  

There were two La Breas in the time of my first love.
Her house was one block east of one and 3,000 miles north
of the Amazon cashew baron La Brea province judge
who sent his "revenge battalion" into the cashew heaven
of the rain forest to cut off the remaining ears of the Juma people
for crowding up his cashew farm jungle with all their huts.
Twelve Juma escaped, twenty-four ears in all.

I didn't know the La Brea Juma were so close
to our La Brea—outside my La Brea was another one—
inside the world of my first love a burning hive carried
another burning hive—a simultaneous La Brea mutilated itself
with government machetes. One block east of the La Brea
simultaneous to the mutilating one, I was rushing inside
the wet pulled aside bottom piece of her bathing suit–
I thought I held everything worth holding–her scent
another memory tightened blossom—in my mind, another mind.

Does anyone believe the savage Juma people
had a mystical connection to parrots? And I ask this,
someone who might as well be a donkey with a parrot's head,
someone in Jerry's-Deli, someone in here trying to eat kreplach
soup–
you have to cut it with a knife. Gold miners, loggers, poachers,
rubber freaks, nut barons is the mysticism that's going to last.
The three-time champion governor of La Brea said:
"Why keep the Indians in a time bubble?"  
Why is it after statements like that the mutilations begin?
Lack of seeing both LaBreas: that's the madness
of pretending you're going to see the Juma return
with prosthetic ears, that's the madness of standing
right at Auschwitz and LaBrea
without noticing shaved girls busy-BUSY
making synthetic rubber wheels—
why isn't there yet another La Brea in which
lack of memory and lack of insight is not madness?

Thirty-five of the last forty-three, seventy Juma ears in all
survived the first attack. Does it matter the Juma people
had what they called A Sobbing Ritual?
They believed weeping literally allowed them
passage into each other, into the past, into the plain
of sparks the rain forest floated upon. And they thought
through their ritual they contacted the human deer
that care for the dead...
thousands of their ears are in a government vault...
Juma means "fierce." Neighboring tribes called them
"giants with feet." They've been going out of there
in cashew and rubber coffins since 1880.
The colonel Antonio Rodrigues LaBrea
ordered clearing the jungle of "hostile savages."
"They fight fiercely for their freedom," wrote the colonel.
This was the beginning of the rubber boom,
out of which a lot of wheels and falsies,
a lot of dildos and girdles and work shoes
and diving suits were manufactured.

It's nothing but a bunch of legends:
that a priest with a female parrot's genitalia
converted the Juma to rubber, that the poachers
mutilate parrots for their mystic vocal chords,
that there's an alligator with the eyes of Jesus
hunting for the governor of La Brea and for his children
who eat silver dollars, and his children's children
all TV stars in Rio, and their grandmother's
dog-fucking valet, and her cook
with the 10" tongue, and his pet albino tarantula,
and the tarantula's dung which the governor
sprinkles himself with. Governors have rituals too.

The corrugated blade shapes of the bark tear a little
when I touch them. It's all La Brea in there,
cashews and rubber, and Auschwitz and synthetic rubber,
the jaws of the flying rats in there are covered with bloody fat,
so are their wings, so are their almost adorable paws,
and so is the spout their lumpy embryonic sacks pour from—
it's a bloodbath in there—Juma's ears without Juma's
Jew's underarm hair without Jews, a shoemaker knifed up the ass,
tufts of spinal debris, food coupons, infant cartilage from Paris,
cancelled transit papers from Marseilles stick to the uplifted roots,
and the governor of La Brea is in there—
Eichman's blonde toupee flies inside his mirror—
he waves clipped bunches of newspaper lingerie sections at me,
he is part of the blade of open bark twice the thickness of my back.
Under the unraveling rubber tree he's petting a laboratory rat
curled at the bottom of the rubber broth,
a Juma in his mouth, or is it a Jew?
Everybody's naked I can't tell,
everybody's mutilated I can't tell, it's a heavy broth,
Brazil, Germany, La Brea, Odessa, Odessa-Schmessa,
there's a lot of gristle in there, there's always enough gristle.


                                                          
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