: : Tinto de Verano:
First night living in Camarma de Esteruelas, Spain
A cheap buzz off one-dollar wine is still fine, and pairs well with the rich
glow of Spanish street lights, illuminating the stray dogs
whose bark, like the rooster’s call,
will summon, at 6 o’clock sharp,
those with the misfortune of leaving their windows open
to awaken to the pre-dawn stirrings of morning and café con leche.
But in the hazy shade of this summer night, all Andalusian voices
melt into warm sweetness like dark chocolate under a heavy tongue.
Soft, bodiless voices which whirr beneath a balcony
prance and play on the backs of rolling R’s
to taunt and tease their melody like a matador—
then slip away— across the bridge beside the plaza
to continue their discourse on upcoming fiestas
and yesterday’s futbol.
And in the navy sky, the dull outline of a church can be traced
beneath the stork’s nest on its belfry—
where bells are replaced with dogs’ howls
and the sanctuary with a skatepark.
// J Todd
: : Belonging
The Balkans are mine.
The languages are ours, mine and my lovers’ –
Serbian with its green-forest, singsong cool,
Greek with its pre-eternal spark, its air electrifying nothing, signifying all -
that which the eye holds, creativity predestined.
Turkish, evercalling a visitor to life to keep the peace, and to honor the minutes’ death.
And my language, my own – my power, my glory, as real to me as the lands that I own
where grasses carry the day, and creatures correlate to stars -
that thing that makes me who I am beyond that which I am.
The wars, peninsular contempt – we love each others’ words,
and our earth possesses logos.
// M Serafimova
: : Dent'n
From the first time we recalled all the words to “Colors of the Wind”
I knew that I was being born again.
And I testified to it every time the house of Hickory inhaled us into the kitchen
and we collapsed on the table, laughing and panting,
coughing out decades of bad news.
and we never thought to ask why we didn’t own a T.V.
when my neighbors ask if I grew up in Chicago
I stumble over how to eulogize you, Dent’n.
I’ve rolled my eyes over how they vocalize your vowels
“Den-ton”—like a Yankee, and snap that “t” like a used match.
And none of my neighbors would celebrate with me
if I swept my mind, lit a lamp to find the missing name of the
one who called our house a hideout for queers.
But I have.
And I have hungered for your mustard greens.
And I have wondered how you sing so early before work.
And I have pondered all the quirks of your handstands, how
your left ankle folds over like a dog’s ear.
I wouldn’t have guessed how diminished I’d become once I dismembered myself
from you, and I’ve tried to re-member myself,
to stitch back the severed members of my heart,
puncturing all the swollen parts of me I swore I didn’t need.
And I can see where the thread leads.
It’s where the angel-eyed gardeners of the urban farms let down their frizzy hair
into the acquisitive hands of their newborn daughters, cradled in their sweaty arms,
as they tiptoe around the lettuce sprouts.
Where I first witnessed Our Lady of the Gutters raise her slender legs straight to
Jesus as she bends her belly over the wall of a dumpster.
Where she and I hung our three-string guitar on the bough of the willow tree
that hangs over the bank of Cooper Creek as we cried for Texas House Bill 40.
Where unshaven mothers feast in the booths of pay-as-you-can restaurants
so they may pontificate infant pedagogy
and run their fingers along the other’s dreadlocks.
Where we followed the luminous bike trailers that rattle down the back alleys of
Walmarts and drug stores.
Where I was led up to cars parked in the vacant boulevard up Crow Street to witness
the brief transfiguration of a Pell Grant college kid into a cross-legged
Franciscan Frère of enormous perspicuity, slapping his cheeks at the tingle of mosquito legs
as he lays out in the passenger seat.
Where tattooed permaculturist gurus guided us
to contemplate the cosmic origins of a peapod.
Where a Gandhian beekeeper and I smiled at the pleasant tempo of leaking rain
and lighted our squat with the beeswax candles we confiscated from the Easter vigil.
Where straight-edge street preachers shake their icy shoulders and rub their thighs
in the chill of the February night, because our van had been coated in freezing rain.
Where congregations of the unemployed spread across the public tables of the city
parks to question the Immaculate Conception and cut hair.
Where we scraped free Craigslist pianos across the floorboards
of the councilman’s abandoned house, and into the hermitage with the pallet-wood
dance floor, and under the awning beside our ambulance where we lived for two
winters and multiple break-ups.
Where woodland anarchists danced in the dilapidated aisles of the fine arts theater
to the electrified vibrations, jubilations, and exhortations of a Christian imitation
of Arcade Fire, gilded by a three-octave glockenspiel.
I have returned alone to each of these places.
I have relearned each of the songs we heard and improvised around the
I have turned the compost where we throw away all the ends of evenings
spent sniping cigarettes and talking each other out of suicide.
And I wonder how I thought that places can be clipped off our persons like
fingernails, or pass through us like food.
but they’ve all stayed,
sitting in my body like a rotting tooth.
And I wonder how long until the angel-eyed gardeners and I
can remember each other again, and when they can show me their twin girls
and I’ll re-teach them the words to our songs.
And I ponder the quirks of your handstands again.
And I hum a few bars of “Colors of the Wind,”
and I go on.
// J Betton