Posts by: Rumpus Original Poems
City of Eternal Spring
My mind rises up as the silos of interchanges,
streams, passages of myself in floating layers
so nothing can connect, and I dream emptiness
on ships sailing to new places for new names,
this ship my hands cupped in front of me,
a beggar’s bowl, a scooped out moon, a mouth
opened to make noiseless screams, to arrange,
to begin, to break through to stop my arrogance,
believing what I touch, see, feel, hear, taste make
a case for being alive, so I can stop believing what
happens when a caterpillar dreams itself beautiful.
Without an imaginary world, without a proper backpack, without my little pink orb,
without an old tablet’s commandments, without a hair dryer, empty hands, empty
birdcage obscured by a crate of empties.
Left without a predictable choice, without direct involvement, without being wiser, left
without leave, left what I came with, left with myself....more
Prodigal Electrons Return to Shine
is the name of the movie
she wants to see,
the first the daughter
of a famous director
whose plots to her
always seemed designed
with more sophisticated
about a man who wears
gray excellent suits
and thinks too much
Pinkened quince with potatoes, cold for breakfast.
Stones by the door I’ve pocketed the last year.
Too bright today to see the road. One blue
for the sky, one for the hills, no shadows.
The spoons and how they fit as a group, each
one becoming plural.
And we entered the Valley of the Rogue.
And we slowed to a crawl.
The night’s envelope sealed us in.
After several hours, cars deep on the interstate,
we resigned ourselves: this first night
would be the gateway, the opening to a roguish place
where I would no longer have answers,
become unable to make plans, in other words:
Orphaned boys plus my mean calculations.
Orphan boys plus desire equals their long
bodies. How they sucked summer-long water
off a garden hose from beside the trailers.
Their mean mothers weary of them sharing
rooms in mental hospitals: I want to meet
them with flowers, thank them for offering
up their sons to this, our glazed plexi-glas
Embers of Smoldering Homes
It is a major war from
a manufacturing plant
near Ciudad Juárez, a concrete
dust smell from the maquiladoras
cools. There is a pool
of liquid forming
on the stone floor.
When Érika Gándara, the only
cop in Guadalupe Distrito Bravos
was killed the buzzards
were fucking in the wind.
War with Computers
“We don’t make war with computers.”
—Captain Kirk in Star Trek, “A Taste of Armageddon,” 1966
Now we hover at 5000 feet. It’s not a fair
fight, but IEDs aren’t fair, either. We watch day and night.
We don’t make war with computers, though; we’re not there
yet, are we?...more
Google Search: “Julie Marie Wade”
I am dead in Mississippi—
dead & Catholic.
A cheerleading coach who passed suddenly on
Wednesday night from “causes unknown.”
In Oxford, they mourn with a funeral mass,
send flowers to the family that survives me.
Astronomy of Fishes & Emily Dickinson (1986)
One eye squeezed like a bag phone between shoulder & ear.
Another eye stuck in a paper towel tube like it’s a telescope
& the whole country sky is as recyclable & sparse as the goatee
I couldn’t grow when I wanted one most.
My brother _is__ a savior
who can torpedo
through privilege with an artistic stun gun
he’s a tempest saturating the city
He makes a scar
in the earth_ draws out
an admixture of folklore
and animus_ plus
a pinch of_ worry from our
so he can build_ endless
with big red bricks
This he does with
our so-called inheritance
We once walked
on our father’s periphery
looking in like_ the matchstick
We walked the edge of our houses
to find ___a warm window
Was it there
the self-preservation__ that hunger
and fear __made of me
a bewitching hybrid of
broken coat trees and orbital
chair and door_ king_ choir
maybe _____that _elemental
of fading into____ the wallpaper
We’re still looking
plush with hunger
My brother speaks
the cloud’s patois
a clatter ___calm ___medium loosens
a grip wears
on the surface____ of his planet
I said anything
I walked far away
I left my brother behind
might have made us_____ better
failure without the sting
we might have found
magic and known
the instability was the brutal
______grief of one tornado
The Mother In This Poem Is Me or You or Your Mother
star a bead
of sweat of
blood of bread
bread on which
we fed the
thread of life
and strife of
he you wed
with heart and
head you pledged
bed there is
no rest for
lest evil eye
pry babe from
I rest my
case on wave
and wind hey
knight hey knave
come save me
blame me for
sin of rage
its wage so
high I am
and slave shame
me slay me
this is the
where you play
and I play
it’s just a
The electric body
changes like a sky bleeding peach,
gray feathers and smoke –
– a body circular as the earth,
water and air,
rivers surging through.
The Vindication of Judas
Forgive me at last, Brother,
for the death sentence: a kiss
that revealed me, an act of obedience
which began your martyrdom.
Who else but you—who loves
me still—could I ask to bear blame
for my murder for all time?
My First Male-to-Male Kiss
______was on Mexican TV. In the 80s. Believe me.
Like my cousin Mari, I too wished I could be
Érika Buenfil, her blonde locks so close to
René of the dark pompadour that looked like a cliff
where so many broken hearts took their final leap.
The History of Asterisks
It is midnight under the sky’s dome ceiling.
The moon speaks, saying nothing of consequence.
John Wayne is from Iowa, so we hitchhiked West
and I realized I never really loved you.
Your skepticism of scientific indices of happiness
is probably gendered or otherwise distorted.
Introduction to the Limits of Metaphor (A Love Poem)
I am snowing inside I am a house with a rickety roof
I am a boat that is capsizing I am waves cold on your feet
You are the moon you are beyond my reach
I am the cranberry in your tart you are the splinter from the wood spoon
You have a face like a coin
I am the fingertip print on the window
You are rain you are a storm surge you have devastated
You are the peel of the apple I am the blackberry juice on your lips
You are the peacock’s screech I am somnolent as night doves
You are traffic jams I am a desert road
I have a wool sweater on my heart
You wear socks on your voice box
I am red lipstick you are the pair of shoes that goes with nothing in the closet
You are an untidy and scorched omelet I am a fallen soufflé
I am season one of Lost you are season nine of the X Files
I am missing organs I am the fallen starlet you are the boy born without a face
We are a pile of fur and feathers leather and oilstain
Civet cat and cigarette perfume wine glass and poorly knit rug
I am cesium I am a radon daughter
You are the phosphorous glow you are the sodium flame
We are teenagers in the rain speeding cars tumbles in the corn
We are empty bottles in morning light with labels peeled off
We are wingless fireflies
We are outlying data the graph that goes off the charts
I am snowing I am out of your reach I am a seascape on your wall
I am a boat gone missing on your horizon
It doesn’t get better, it gets different. Ask God,
Clean House, Help Others. Try taking a trip, not taking a trip,
swearing off forever— with and without solemn oath. This too
shall pass: this rented office space, these folding chairs,
this night where women droop into the room like low fog,
bused in from a halfway house for those with infants.
The Early Minutes of Without
You thought you were spared
falling in love with another drunk
now that you were sober and could feel
the ordinary grain that ran through everything.
You were awake in the great city and moved
among the civilians you couldn’t move among
before; structure time and dress for the weather.
You come with a little
Black string tied
Around your tongue
Knotted to remind
Where you came from
And why you left
Of people whose
Names need no
Do you say God
Now that the night
this is me
PATH train ride, boy and girl
legs braided at one knee
a bud from the same split phone cord
speaking in each other’s ear
and girl and girl
platform combat boots and microskirts
one tenderly stroking the other’s knee
without danger, without shame
may be over
but the war
Every year, for National Poetry Month, the Rumpus presents a poem-a-day for the month of April. Today’s poem is “Aubade” by Ruben Quesada....more