The Revelation, By Lucia Perillo

I hit Tonopah at sunset,

just when the billboards advertising the legal brothels

turn dun-colored as the sun lies

down behind the strip mine.


And the whores were in the Safeway,

buying frozen foods and Cokes

for the sitters before their evening shifts.

Yes they gave excuses to cut


ahead of me in line, probably wrote bad checks,

but still they were lovely at that hour,

their hair newly washed

and raveling. If you follow


any of the fallen far enough

--the idolaters, the thieves and liars--

you will find that beauty, a cataclysmic

beauty rising off the face of the burning landscape


just before the appearance of the beast, the beauty

that is the flower of our dying into

another life.

Like a Mobius strip: you go round once


and you come out on the other side.

There is no alpha, no omega,

no beginning and no end.

Only the ceaseless swell


and fall of sunlight on those rusted hills.

Watch the way brilliance turns

on darkness. How can any of us be damned.

From “The Oldest Map With the Name America: New and Selected Poems” by Lucia Perillo (Random House: 148 pp., $19.95)