Other Poems by:

Sergio Ortiz

Memories

Feet jumping off boulders 
into crystalline river waters
near ceremonial grounds. 
Hieroglyphs of other feet
strolling on beaches full of mosquitoes.  
Scared feet flying in the air
on dirty motel beds, 
roasting like the roasting heart 
of a goose  thumbing rides 
from Telegraph Street
to herethere Oakland.  
Feet posing in the nude 
for the muscular arms 
of a shy blond biker 
from South Carolina.
The feet of men staring 
at their hands and ready to walk in 
their wife's stockings, 
burning like silk from the inside.

Kidnapped

My echo spoke 
before its sound held 
Sebastian captive, 
 
It retreated
to the other side 
of a tunnel in denial, 
sleepwalking in twilight. 
 
We met in the Secret Service, 
deep down inside we all work 
for the Secret Service. 
 
Our first assignment 
was a briefing on the case 
of the Kidnapped Shoe. 
 
At lunch Sebastian came over 
to chat about his life, 
the one we see and 
the one we live 
but never evoke. 
 
He took his shoe off 
to demonstrate the kidnapping. 
Suddenly, he brushed 
my elbow with his finger. 
 
I found myself undressing 
and promising him every satisfaction. 
All he needed to do was allow 
me to take care of him for a year. 
 
If his desires were not fulfilled 
by then he could be unfaithful 
with any woman. I would watch 
them ignite my bed, humiliated. 
 
Lorna? Sorry, I was trying
to picture the shoe run on asphalt.
 
But my echo reproached 
you for squandering luck between 
mountains and oceans, 
lost on the outer limits of words.

The Lottery

Babylon 
cut off 
my tongue
and a finger
out of anger.
It sold me
a lottery ticket
convinced
that buying
myself
out of slavery 
was the only option.
 
I'll tell
Babylon
that it is dreaming,
and its fire
whithers
in the temple.
 
I am
my own
poem, a kiss,
and here 
there is no
pretending.

The Idiot

Myshkin, what is in a name, or a diamond? 
I talked to a poor man, he saw the puddles 
of my thirst and offered an orange. 
I turned to look at a mango tree 
cooling a wave in the middle of the ocean, 
its roots were knotted. 
 
* 
 
The snow, dear Myshkin, the snow 
at my nape, behind my shoulders, 
behind every part of the back of my body, 
is melting, but I don't feel warmth any closer. 
What is in a snow flake? 
 
* 
 
I want you to drown my name in a river, 
Myshkin. Drown the sound 
of each letter until they are 
 
river blue.

Before Darkness/ A Trilogy

Above 
 
We decided to hunt for butterflies 
on the other side of the fence, 
between old statues of father, 
in overgrown grass, 
the place he keeps his untamed calf. 
 
Rolling towards the pit, 
(where civets harvest musk, 
and the sky gives way to night) 
was father's code to play, 
the list of sanctions 
too long for me to write. 
 
We put our catch in glass jars. 
Pushed, touched, and joked 
in such a way as not to break 
my father's code. But in the end 
you kissed another man. 
 
Below 
 
They rested on the shoulders 
of statues. He said they perfumed 
summer with a kind of musk. 
 
We took the beautiful ones 
out of the jar, pierced with a pin 
and let them dry. The ministry 
 
of their wings kept us awake. 
We disappeared to the other side 
of the fence where father 
 
kept the untamed calf. He unbuttoned 
my pants. I didn't care, father had been dead 
for years, dead and all I wanted 
was another kiss. 
 
Between 
 
Father's code was the magnet: 
his classical order, 
control, synthesis, rules. 
Half a statue, was what was left. 
Half a pasture, half a fence. 
 
I was ten and a half 
on the day of the magnet, 
his untamed calf. 
He was half a year older 
and never quite faithful. 
 
Aunt Enriqueta would read us 
stories of houses that made noises, 
--padam padam padam-- 
dogs' eyeballs slit 
with 
half a 
razor. 
It was rainbows on butterfly wings, 
and the scent of musk 
we found in a kiss 
 
and I do believe in you and you in me. 
We've been together for half a century. 
Now, give this old man one last kiss. 

**Copyright 2008 Sergio Ortiz, all rights reserved
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