Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Dear Empire [these are your billboards]


These are your billboards. They brighten the highways, their panels demarcating a time between longitudes. Time and time—their illuminated marquees strain the power grid’s thrumming desires. The signage hums by with their images of smiles, wide as the scaffolds at each base.


Up high, the vector-enlarged faces grid the human. Beauty as proportional as leaves of paper backed by paste and smoothed to a shine. This sign is as simple as the promise it contains. The body of a dancer extends her hands out as a courtesy to you.


This one—an eye that duplicates longing. Whether the eye is blue or green does not matter. Somewhere above the image, the outline of another billboard. Heat from light bulbs ghost the names beneath.

Oliver de la Paz is the author of three collections of poetry: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, and Requiem for the Orchard. He is the co-author of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Persona Poetry and co-chair of the Kundiman advisory board. He teaches at Western Washington University.