Rumpus Original Poetry: Four Poems by C.T. Salazar






St. Peter’s dried colon stuffed with honey-
suckle to mask the scent : the dove’s direct
descendent perched in an ark-shaped cage, but
the relics of our fathers were never
so gentle. Boar tusk and ripped shirt. Buckshot
breath rising from the wound. I thought the fog
looked like wedding dresses falling over
the grass. Called them my sisters and followed.

In the dark, I was called beautiful but
I wasn’t. Each step down the staircase broke
a promise: the lilies in my hand meant
it was June. My mother’s rug still rolled up.
The room smelled like paint but we couldn’t see–
we held our hands in front of us like this.



This is the gospel of barking dogs. Saint
Augustine licking his paw. I never
talked about what I saw          in the river:
the believers who drowned. The blue pillars
of their bodies. My face painted the
same hour of daybreak. I promise      I
looked for you in the shattered mosaic
made from the salvaged chips of empire.

Darkness is a plate we pass,   terrible
taste we inherit. The church walls have cracked
from the heat that hatched and never flew out.
The kitchen where we dried our feet and wiped
rain out of our faces is painted and
now forgotten us: our thralling hours.



What do I look like now, without warpaint
and dirt in my teeth? Wer means man: war means
God picked a flower and named it Abra-
ham.    God blew on a dandelion and
we went searching for a home. Wolves came and
insects came, and then insects left. Voices,
maybe mine, mourned the trees but the trees fell
anyway. And we had plenty of time.

[suffer not]   the sun getting heavier
by the moment   [suffer not]   my father’s
handprint left in the sawdust   [suffer not]

the things we touch that dare remember us
[summer not]   like a season caught in my
hair but my face slowly becoming his



In the far corner of Yahweh’s great mouth-
ful of greenery is where my mother
asked to lie down. The prayer she tied to
a sparrow’s foot with her ribbon said Yes
we have sinned but we have several great
excuses.           The underside of logic
is still the softest place to walk barefoot.
I saw it once. I didn’t want to leave.

The map to heaven I made on my palm
smeared when I held your hand. I wore my best
shirt. I dipped the cherries in chocolate.
Everything I burned / I burned for warmth,
even this layer of skin, soft as a
swan shaking against its own reflection.


Photograph of C.T. Salazar by Rachel Guerry.

C.T. Salazar is a Latinx poet and librarian from Mississippi. He’s the author of This Might Have Meant Fire (Bull City Press, 2019). His poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, RHINO, Tinderbox Poetry, and elsewhere. More from this author →