Image: “Union Beach,” by Clement Obropta, digital photograph, 2011
After Ross Gay and Patrick Rosal The raft of my two hands slide together, knuckle to knuckle, buckling. The cool water collects in the center. I lift this small sea to my lips as if to free my touch with my thirst.
The Storm from the Box
I postmark a heartbeat into a tornado and watch the boards rip off like fall to leaves I share this last bit of empty with all the dearly departing beating like the slap of mahjong tiles onto a table count them flower flower flower my doubts river from my failure I am sorry twists a wind I hate you running down my back half-cracked half-flickered shadows love letter the bad racket splintering down the middle of the night the whole thing gutted like knife to meat ash thins to memory come the shatter is this way this church is where my stars hunger to feast
Despedida: Clean Zeros
Once, I drove from one end of San Diego to the other just to have my odometer reach one hundred thousand miles. The night before I left, I drove those same streets. I passed the waterfront with all the other restless sleepers. The stretch of highway where my car broke down. Somewhere, I was still a drummer. Somewhere, I was still here. And then I was not. I drove past old telephone wires tangling a cityscape. Palm tree and pot holes. Marriott’s and cemeteries. The navy base where my family flowed through. And taqueria upon taqueria and their midnight medicine. The fire still smoldering. A massive spotlight shined against shovels digging a new street. It was so bright I thought there was a second sky. Somehow, we all reframe ourselves in the image of desire. Mine was the image of clean zeros. I want to fill their bellies with jagged digits, fill this engine with joules and horses and muse. I chase them into an open field, make them flee, just to watch them flutter in the hunt. I bend these circles until they poured out a song. No celebration, no fanfare. Just a car I won’t need anymore. Just midnight whistling past. Just a blur of houses and highways, and grains of sand. Just a dashboard I dropped so much shit on that it turned a different color— how that color won’t mean much tomorrow. Despedida with only the quiet that comes after. Just the haunting.
legend has it as dragons and hell the americas the west of wests a necklace of necks the unclaimed aria latitude in four arms longitude of an upside down face grinning two hollow moons a nothingness the dark matter the unseen a science of ends the shifter of light the pendulum of two threads wailing free like twin animals one the bite the other the flesh so I run my right through the first until it becomes what I left when my myth begins to mouth it will say:
Language of My Birth
In a former life, I was a writer, a locksmith, a desire. I was a cloud, a gust of wind, the gut feeling—a truth. I was movement—the muscle, the neuron. No, I was revelation and the resistance. But, this was how I was born: composed of spark, wrapped in smoke, raining a universe. I stacked rock upon rock until I am an ocean high, but at any given moment the strata of my breastbone peels back, revealing how the animals died and the dirt compiled. And in the same shake, bloodied eyed, rib busted, my innards form a new language: half drowned, half boat.