Fordlandia written by James Gabriel at



written by: James Gabriel



Soot filled sky reflects off the Tapajos River,
merging with the metal of the hull. A man
once drowned here.
I step into American folly.

Henry Ford builds a city in the Amazon.
Now, home to plantation descendants
and retired milkmen.
“History is bunk.”

Zuba cattle graze on Palm Avenue.
Clapboard bungalows made in Michigan,
still standing.
I step into American craftsmanship.

A hospital once stood here, treating yellow fever.
Its final patient, Hevea brasiliensis, deathly ill with leaf blight.
Bats roam the halls like
gothic candy stripers.

No alcohol. No fornication.
Stray dogs killed to protect a lie that keeps, until a mosquito
bites your arm, quickening your pulse.
A quick game of tennis or a bout of malaria?

Tired of peaches and rice. Punch clocks smashed.
Terrified eyes peer out of the dark, hiding in the jungle.
“Brasil para los brasilenos; matemos a todos los estadounidenses!”
Headstones are scattered
here and there, destroyed by flooding.
The graves of the three children killed by tropical fever are
now happier in the swimming pool, splashing.

Gone is the movie theatre, the dance halls and warehouses.
Do-si-do round and round
Emerson & Longfellow square dance
off the deteriorating walls.

Walk down the footpath, past the
deceased street-lamps and
sit on a fire hydrant. I see
decaying houses with giant

satellite dishes.
Look up at the water tower
rusting and squat
looming over a footnote.

History is liminal.
History is liminal.
History is liminal.

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