"Between Two Bastions," "An Early End to Life," and "Next Best Thing"

Between Two Bastions

I am the guestbook pages
hundreds of people, with a single name
and many languages, sign.
Elegies chase after me.
I believe in the elephant, if he sings verses,
in music, when it creates itself,
in the flower of the Nile
when it isolates its soul after death,
in the storyteller, if he takes off his shoes
before lighting the funeral pyre.

I am the earth in clusters of unknown maps,
reason in the consciousness of unconsciousness,
the smell of fingers in the knitted shawl,
the pencil in its paperless orphanage.

I am the fire-eater on death’s mount,
the dancer in the open-air festivals
of murderous sheikhs who renounce
their right to my alms.

I am the book of doubt in the Word,
the temple walls with drawings
of a thousand scenes of passion,
the tired god as he walks the streets alone
carrying the secrets spiders revealed.

 


 

An Early End to Life

My skin, scroll written
by your trembling hands,
refulgence of your epidermis
in my skin’s blind memory.

My complexion, the crystallized
mirror of your smile
strolling through this world
devoid of trust.

What you cried, "don't hold your breath,"
is learning to ramble the earth.
What you called "love affair" is not blood
but it watered my body’s garden as if it were.

Yes, everything I own
is yours, yet I know
something closer
than myself

lives to the finish.
That makes the very life
you give me
impossible.

 


 

Next Best Thing

Our parents were astronauts
of two extremes.
Every vacant lot
where we used to play
started boiling over, so
we grew up (in word only)
against the prognosis
of a possible plague
of perverts arriving
to snatch us.
We were unlabeled objects
on the pavement
sculpting our silhouettes
for the trap,
babbling and babbling
until we vomited
the true value of silence.
At the end of the space race
reality always exceeds fiction.

 

 

Sergio A. Ortiz is a gay 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 a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have been published in hundreds Journals and Anthologies. He is currently working on his first full length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 20:56