for M


who conceived that ravine
         the contour
         of those slopes

          him as he swims—

is trying to say
                            don’t let 
                                             the barber
his collar


I love
him in

my fingers
his chest

a cub
the forest
                        after Andrés Montoya & Francisco X. Alarcón


She and I on a bench eating prawns:

the first day of her fiftieth year and she points
at two street performers about to juggle
fire, and a distant summer morning

surfaces, afloat on the light wind blowing
off the bay—older sisters in the dark, hiding
as big brother parades around the house

his hands outstretched clutching large candles
I'm on a search! he shouts,
marching from room to room

till he finds them huddling in a jungle 
of clothes, beacons flickering as flame-
hot wax begins to flow across his fingers...

while she is walking to Centro Adulto, her head brimming
with phrases: the words she needs so she can quit
sewing, land a job in a bank; and the sitter

arriving minutes late, finding us wet
and trying to save a coat, a shirt, a dress—it's 
a small one: nothing the green hose

and frantic assembly-line of buckets
doesn’t eventually douse, leaving walls and curtains
the color of coal—¡Mira! she gasps

her left hand rapping my shoulder, still pointing with the right
as the torches,
from one juggler to the other,

begin to fly

                     for my mother (1932-1997)


after Rilke

Despite the absent head (whose eyes

were the green of apples)
the supple flesh hums
with the afterglow

of those eyes
which is why the curve
of chest shimmers which is why

the twist of loin turns
that look into a smile, snaring
your eyes, leading

them slowly to regions
below the waist...That block
of stone more than a figure

disfigured and short; cascade
of shoulder glints
like a sinewy beast

of prey, whose edges blink
like stars—that torso:
gazing on its own. Step closer:

go blind

City Moon

Perfect disc of moon, huge
and simmering
low on the capital’s filthy horizon—¡Ay,
qué luna más hermosa! she says
pushing the stroller slowly down Atocha.
And gorgeous too the firm-thighed

boys from Lisbon
a block away, who work
Kilometer Zero’s sidewalk, the neon
shoestore they lean against
cupping the flames
of passing strangers.

The sky above Puerta del Sol turns
a darker shade of blue. Who says
it doesn’t become night’s
one eye
as it scales the heavens, paling
and shrinking before it moves

across a late June sky? And below,
men persist and circle
the plaza, twin fountains brimming
over their brilliant waters. Hours
from now with the heat
waning, the same moon will spot

the figure of him
making past Neptune, the Ritz
the orange jumpsuits
hopping off trucks to sweep
and spray, hosing
down those electric streets.

Luna urbana

Disco perfecto de luna, enorme
y a fuego lento, rozando
el horizonte sucio de la capital—¡Ay,
qué luna más hermosa! dice ella
empujando el cochecito de niño por Atocha.
Y espléndidos también los muslos

de los muchachos de Lisboa
a una manzana, que trabajan
en la acera del Kilómetro Cero,
la zapatería de neón donde se apoyan,
escudando con la mano el fuego
de extraños que pasean por allí.

El cielo sobre la Puerta del Sol toma
otro tono de azul. ¿Quién dice
que no se convierte en el único
ojo de la noche
al escalar: palideciendo
y menguando antes de cruzar

el cielo de finales de junio? Y abajo,
hombres persisten, dando vueltas
por la plaza, las fuentes gemelas rebosantes
de aguas luminosas. De aquí
a unas horas con el calor
desvaneciéndose, la misma luna verá

su figura
pasando Neptuno, el Ritz,
los monos de color naranja
que saltan de los camiones a barrer
y pulverizar, regando
esas calles eléctricas.

Related Poems

Everything Is Going To

As we unlocked it
there was nothing
in the safe
I wanted
to embrace
someone there
so intent to record
all we saw
paying attention meant
but you
at that age or later on
a kind of stage
your solitude
a fictive situation
parceled among the crowd
multiplying your every gesture
in outline
unto degradation
I wanted to stop
defending comfort
and touch you to
begin undoing
the rigmarole
of our passing