Those forbidden twilights,
brandished balloons hanging
from hands fusing my horizons.
Your scheme, Medusa, wrecking
the tender years when wonderment
still struck my heart’s core, was
anchored on those midnight moons
that pierced time’s foundation.
Twenty years gone astray,
yet bees still sizzle and cymbals snap
at the thought of desire. Today I sit
and twang my concertina in the nude
on the sands of the Mojave
humming revivalist songs
What does love search for if not to grow wings and become a hermaphrodite. Is it not the obsession of the loved one to burn your summer until you cook like escargot and die?
(I was kneeling in front of him, my mouth on his hardness. His knees trembled and swayed. When I looked up his eyes were closed and he asked: Do you love me?)
Love, immobile happiness of the swamp. Who was he to my intimate places to ask me that discomforting question?
Did his wings carry the same dark dirt as my map? Had he found my scent in Paris and lost it in the canals of Amsterdam? Had he found that place in me— the where, where he could always return?
ii. I had fallen in love with a man who had a name to protect. I shut myself in the bedroom for days buried under shame.
Friends brought me look-a-likes, but it only made me smell of bitter sweat and dead gardenias.
I’d listen to them speak as if from a far distance, eyelids heavy, like stones swollen with salty wetness, cheeks flushed as if with fever.
After a while, they’d find a hollow place inside themselves and crouched there until the storm around me abated.
Then I’d sing spirituals and tell stories of birds and people with thin hearts.
Meanwhile the man with a name to protect would walk around the city punching every glass window he could find
until he’d reach my house. Friends let him in. He’d sit on the edge of my bed and trace his finger across the recess of my ass. Everyone in the room would disappear, leave the two of us together. No one ever heard us talk— two lovers above time and space.
iii. If you look closely, you’ll see a blood stain on the letter W on page 2 of my map of Amsterdam. And on page 10 you’ll find the same stain on the letter H, page 18, the letter E, 19, the letter N, 22-L, 24-O, 27-V, 29-E, and D- O-E-S on page 35. On page 41 N-O-T and G-I-V-E, page 47 L-I-F-E, page 53, I-T-‘S O-N S-A-L-E. What became of so much love?
It was 3pm and the pedicurist stabbed the corns on my left foot.
My skin was the perfect page for the imprint of your fingers.
Sergio A. Ortiz is a Puerto Rican poet and the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. 2nd place in the 2016 Ramón Ataz annual poetry competition, sponsored by Alaire Publishing House. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.
Sergio A. Ortiz es poeta puertorriqueño que escribe en inglés y español. Actualmente trabaja en su primera colección de poesía, Elephant Graveyard, Cementerio de Elefantes. Ha sido nominado al premio Pushcart en dos ocasiones, al Best of the Web en cuatro ocasiones, y al Best of the Net, 2016. 2do lugar Premio Ramón Ataz de Poesía, 2016. Sus poemas han aparecido, o están por aparecer, en revistas literarias como: Letralía, Chachala Review, The Accentos Review, Resonancias, por mencionar algunos.