Rumpus Original Poetry: Four Poems by P.E. Garcia





sweat&allspice cento1
after Eduardo C. Corral

you breathed in
whispers; God is gracious,
_______god is touching me; no:

A vulture; a pillar of salt
_______is nothing like a lighthouse,
_______a girl asleep beneath a fishing net
_______a moonlit downpour, God’s skeleton.

i pinch & pull until
_______i am holding
_______three men
_______your red wool cap

Day after day spent shaping
_______the moon
_______like stigmata
_______in the dark

Imagine: coal, plow,
_______a corpse-colored river
_______the aroma
_______of sweat&allspice

the mirror shatters
_______into milk,
_______there’s a glacier gutter

gently he hammers gold into a sentence       gently
_______they broke open
_______my body
_______with their fists

you breathed in
_______the aroma
_______of sweat&allspice

you breathed in

1. This cento includes lines from Corral’s poems “To Robert Hayden,” “Sentence,” “To a Straight Man,” “Ceremonial,” “Cayucos,” “All the Trees of the Field Shall Clap Their Hands,” “In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes,” and ‘Testament Scratched Into a Water Station Barrel (Translation #11),” as well as lines he posted on Twitter.


a guy driving by calls me a fag

& i wonder how he knew
_____________________my heart was an egg
_____________________shell-all-speckled blue
_____________________with red-orange-sunset yolk

& the people on the street
_____________________who have heard || who have seen
_____________________this guy || drive by || shouting
_____________________my name || they eye me uncomfortable

& unsure
_____________________if they heard & saw
_____________________what they thought
_____________________they heard & saw

& i don’t react

_____________________because i know
_____________________what i heard & saw
_____________________& i know
_________________________________it’s nothing.

but the poppies & blood & feathers & bird bones
_____________________i carry in my pockets,
_____________________i spread like salt
_____________________behind my feet

& the people on the street
_____________________relaxing lungs around the eggs
_____________________inside their own chests

& we can all pretend
_____________________nothing was seen
_____________________& no-one was


the sea & the foam

i apologized to the sun
_____________________for having skin

but still seafoam came
_____________________to cut my belly open
_____________________to birth my own intestines
_____________________to divine with them a future

but still seafoam came
_____________________to crack my throatskin
_____________________to pull quetzal feathers out
_____________________to decorate their pastries
& plates & plates

but still seafoam came
_____________________soft & white & full
_____________________of good intent

but still seafoam
_____________________still a wave’s crest,
_____________________cliff’s edge, top of a mountain
_____________________of good intent bearing down
_______________________________________________________over me


Magnolia Cemetery

call me to the house
of the unheard

take the kudzu of whispers
from the windows & say each name

like a prayer for the dead & for those who survive
Christ-like hung up from the massacre of history

the mudwater grows the same as weeds
horseflies mingle with moths

even tombstones rot
& history is
____________the ghost pervading these trees

i’ve heard hell is the absence of god
dark the absence of light

death the absence of life

is grief then the absence of joy

or how do i call



P.E. Garcia is an Editor-at-Large for the Rumpus and a contributor to HTMLGiant. They currently live in Philadelphia, where they were recently accidentally elected to be Judge of Elections. Find them on Twitter: @AvantGarcia. More from this author →