Aerial Photos of the Plains : For Charles Baxter

From "Hotel de Dream" (Illuminati Publishers: $8.95; 58 pp.) . James Krusoe's previous books include "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ," "Jungle Girl," "Small Pianos, and History of the World." He edits the Santa Monica Review and teaches at Santa Monica College.

You more or less have to be a real fan of green

to keep on staring at one rectangle after another

of what's essentially just grass with only an

occasional peasant hut to interrupt the dullness

until you learn to find beneath the magnifying


the upturned faces of the families living there

who've come outside to try to find the source

of that

thin buzz above their heads and only then the


emerge--the crude bandage sticking to the


cheek--the bruises on the kids--the man who

even from

this height looks mean as he attempts to

hide one

ape-like arm behind his back so we won't see

the stain

along his sleeve and then in other shots

the woman's pushing back her hair or

straightening the children's

shirts so they can look their best for us--

as when

we used to stop along a railroad track to wave

and watch

the engineer wave back because what we wanted

most was

to be noticed by some god and then be sure he'd

go away

1991 by James Krusoe. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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