Friday, July 31, 2009

The Smell of Sulfur

The Smell of Sulfur
By Sergio A. Ortiz

The odor of sulfur was as strong
as the company brought to the podium of Titans.
Gaia and Ouranos spat angry epithets to each other
in the oval office of the armory on Boulevard
where the effigy hid bottles of gin.

On television the rib-tickling, righteous Titan
got an opportunity to explain the notion
of drowning in the desert to the nation recently targeted
by terror. The program furthered the graven image’s intent
to build a large metal barrier. Who knew if it was to keep
some out, or trap some in?

Women tip-toeing north through the desert
left an uncomfortable trail of blood too long to ignore,
rivers of pearls buried under the roots of ancient
saguaros on Cristero soil.

Words pronounced by shebang smoking idols
didn't mean a thing to thirty million butterflies.
They were there first.

Copyright © 2009 Sergio A. Ortiz

Collective Madness

Collective Madness
Around the house the flakes fly faster,
And all the berries now are gone'
Birds At Winter, Thomas Harding

Collectively we are
over exposed driftwood bewitched by the
light, pretty
little cento, an
eclipse enchanted with a rainbow. Our
childhood memories linger like pastoral
triolets about rolling meadows. Luck has nothing to do with
interpreting the
veils with which we choose to cover our faces.
enlightenment happens after we fall.

Madness comes in the form of eyes
appended to blood dripping rocks when our
demons fail to cross the river.
never is where we usually drink tea and
endlessly suck on lemons.
smiles are inevitable when we
spar with strangers yet fail to bring about change.

Copyright © 2008 Sergio A. Ortiz Published in Kritya

Tuesday, July 28, 2009



A chorus of genuflections filtered through the kitchen
ventilator and knelt beside my bed around midnight.
I knew Georgina was dead. My rocking chair peeled
its mahogany finish in her honor.

There were loud knocks at the door: my neighbors standing
outside packing axioms and any other thing they could find:
guns, crucifixes, shovels. “Hi, we were wondering
about the odor?” It’s not coming from here,
I’m not quite dead yet. Occasionally, I see apparitions
of myself standing by the window, behind the shower curtain,
but I still go fly fishing.

Mother came to me in a dream last night, gave me the password
to a house where boas reincarnate into possessed lizards
catching mosquitoes on maracas. She said: everything spoken
becomes water, blends.

She had me thinking about my space. I am going to stop
talking for seven years, but first let me repeat this a few more
times: Harmonizing the sacred. Harmonizing the sacred.
Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus

Copyright © 2008 Sergio A. Ortiz Published in Flutter

On the Day of the Dead

On the Day of the Dead

On the day of the dead, Pablo put on his pants
one mummified foot at a time. It wasn't
his fault, rain was the true culprit. Clouds
followed his feet for years, poured whenever
he tried to cut bread in the City of Glass.
His soles cracked, sprouting roots.

Julia entertained on her balcony, levitating
intimate secrets. People on 42nd Street
attributed her faculties to a santero visiting
her family on the day she was born.
She stood tall and elegant like the mountains
to the south of Black Island, Pablo's home.
Her face had all the traces of unforgettable pain.

They married; Julia, carried down the aisle
by old lovers, found the last bottle of rum
hidden in the trash before the wedding.
She bled life into a gutter, no one recited her verses.
No one knew she was ambassador to the Island of Poetry.

Pablo was one mummified foot at a time closer
to banging pots and starvation, medicine denied,
orders from the dictator. They are gone
but I keep their marriage vows to read out loud
on the day of the dead.

Copyright © 2008 Sergio A. Ortiz Published in Literary Journal



You saddle the other me,
the one you empty
each disappearing dawn,
the bulldogger with a bitten lip.

I am crowned with psychedelic
corollas, dreams beyond dreams.
I learn to forget by forgetting.

There is nothing left of my ecstasies,
or the color of my obsessions,
not even the seize of your mouth
on my words.

Copyright © 2008 Sergio A. Ortiz Published in Origami Condom

A Reverie of Horror - Cento

He finds the hallway leading
to death's wrinkled, Garbo legs.

Children standing by their mother's
broken mirror have their own
boleros to remember.

Spiders weave the stench of sour jungle,
a vile outbreak of colloquial monsters.
My father sings a duo with my father.

Copyright © 2009 Sergio A. Ortiz

Saturday, July 25, 2009



I stopped pushing salvation
on inner city streets after the funeral.
Maples lining the road home took me to the kimono
and the baby, anniversary gifts from Tent.
Rubin changed clothes as soon as we got home
from Sunday school: toreror, mariachi, prime ballerina.
It was difficult to keep a straight face in the middle
of an argument with a little cross-dresser playing
in front of you.

The beginning of autumn, that’s when he started
collecting the feathers.
My baby, fourteen, lifeless.
We found the first one outside a Mud Wrestling
Bar & Grill. It had the Lords Prayer written on the barbs.
Soon enough, they were coming from all over the world.
He loved to collect them.

Close, Tent was very close to his son.
Closer than the rope he used.
He couldn’t take the impact of Rubin’s passing.

I needed to look in the mirror,
put on the kimono, cover my arms with the red
yellow leaves of the sash, and hide the teeth marks.

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2008

At the Church of 80% Sincerity

At the Church of 80% Sincerity

it was no crime to be born a delicate
male, but reaching puberty
while you're opening up a frog
in biology class ruined
your sex life for good.
Games were another gray area.
No such thing as “hard” contact
during basket-ball practice was allowed,
and it wasn't because of the balls,
or the running style.
So, I took ballet three nights a week,
studied sincerity percentages.
It was not easy.
Everyone I knew hid 20%
of their life at the Church
of 80% Sincerity.

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2008 first published in Children, Churches, and Daddies



I did not fail to see your shroud cover my hands,
like a mother greeting a son with garlands.
What was this light you possessed
that guided me out of the dark,
wheeled my thoughts in navy blue, tendered
my voice, and spiraled into a dance?

The hands holding up invisible walls,
carried my sail to streams untouched.
Hands that fenced passions and cushioned
the blows each time I fell.

Chant a bhajan melody while the fingers
of my right hand form a crown lotus soaring
in mid air. My left hand imitates
a wave caught in the vortex of fate.
My eyes look away from physical forms
as if all the toiling in the fields
had set them on fire in celebration.

Clattering kartals accompanied
by humming drones, and chiming manjiras,
sitars and nals, complete the circle swaying
rhythms in perfection. Why do you till my eyes
in your fields of saffron?

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2008



We are both close to fear,
my brother and I, boom babies,
witnesses to an age saturated
with violence. Him, a virgin
at twenty-five. Me, used
and afraid by sixteen.

I want to hug my brother
tell him how much I’ve missed him.
Night has not been the same
without a sentinel looking out
the window, searching.

Thank you for understanding
what it is to be a man
without the bling hanging
on my neck or a gun in hand.

I want us to see the dawn
while our faces turn
to each other, and the clothes
we wear burn off.

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2008

Peak Oil

Peak Oil

We read about the old dying
from the cold. Fifteen days later

there was no food.
When it happened a third time

politicians got mobbed on the streets.
As if law makers could keep away cardinals

perched on the outstretched arms
of concrete scarecrows.

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2008

On the Brink

On the Brink

Merchants of war, you hide in what you wish
were called, “the Mansions of Heaven,”
while a trigger is squeezed to death on the street.

I have a bird that whistles, but it doesn’t stop
me from crying. I heard some students
were crushed for walking in each other’s dreams
at a love-in. Too bad I couldn’t be there with them.

I’m a dada bird on the brink of extinction,
need to get away from Oxford,
Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2008

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tanka- Jump in Water

when dawn
remembers to seize your dreams
jump in water
even if you can't swim
or wiggle your ears

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sevenling: Beautiful Ruins

I see a cloud
so old it wants to sail
across the moon and rain.

I tend my garden:
the water, marble,
forgetting which runs into which.

Where is Eden? Is there a hammock there?

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009



Linda prepared for bed confident
she could not receive
bad news.
It was Thursday, bad news
was announced in dreams on Fridays,
After walking over to the drawer and taking out
the tied chicken legs, Linda rubbed the tattoos,
stricken by the taunt of sailors,
on the side of her neck for good luck.
Gypsies don’t read
each others palms.
They understand war casualties, letter writing in the fog,
black and white images that make you forget
the wind. She wasn’t going to think
about the fuzz on his back, think about how it spread
to his buttocks.
Teresa walked in the bedroom with the Acacia oil.
She was so thin she was starting to look like phyllo.
The señora wants me to brush her hair?
Wait. Please, wash your hands. Mr. Puttock
will be home in the morning, I want my hair noticeable.
Look at you, skinnier by the day. Certain
about not telling me who the father is?
No señora, it doesn’t matter. He is an important man.
He won’t care of my baby. Teresa your pulling my hair,
how many oil drops did you put in the water?
It doesn’t matter.
You will work here until you’re due.

© Sergio A. Ortiz 2008

Copyright © 2008 Sergio A. Ortiz

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