This Moment / Right Now

Roberto Carlos Garcia

                              for Monica Hand

there’s a whispered prayer blowing
the crumbs of a season’s harvest
                    off a girl’s plate

& a roar breaks from her insides,
the roar a lioness
                    a beast that knows

& a man kneels somewhere
cupping his tears
                    for the loneliness he feels

though he’s surrounded by the world,
& a finch in a tree singing
                    for a lover as the buds on its branch

pop into leaves that will flourish
& welcome the green grasses,
                    Right now    a boy is wondering

if people can really dodge bullets
& is he one of them & somewhere nobody bothers
                    to ask, they simply wait

Wind spins across the landscape
they say God is twirling his fingers—

The heartbroken hook new bodies,
night after night, drink after drink

& I dance—my feet mashing grapes
for wine & I sing mockingly—
                    what is life / what is life
 

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Elegy

I remember the boys & their open hands. High fives

of farewell. I remember that the birches waved too,

the white jagged limbs turning away from incessant wildfires.

 

The future wavered, unlike a question, unlike

a hand or headstone. The future moved & the fields already knew it.

 

I remember the war of the alphabet, its ears sliced from its face. I

know that language asks for blood.

 

The children of kudzu, lilac, the spit of unknown rivers. I remember the jury

& the judge of the people. The buckshot that blew

the morning’s torso into smoke.

 

That last morning I begged the grandmothers to leave their rage next to red candles

& worn photographs of their children & their blue-eyed grandson

with his bleeding heart. The savior bled flowers.

 

I scattered the stones the trees bore. Gray vultures came for my children.

They knew the old country better than me. They broke through

skyscrapers & devoured both villain & hero.

 

& boys were pouring, wanted & unwanted & missing yet from the long mouth

where their voices were forced to say they were nothing. But they were men, invisible

& native & guilty beyond their glottal doubt.

 

I remember calling out to the savage field where more boys knelt & swung

through the air. I remember how their eyes rolled back

in blood, milk, & gasoline. Their white teeth

chewing cotton into shrouds, scars & sheets.

 

They gave me their last words. They gave me smiles for their fathers.

They slept in my arms, dead & bruised. Long as brambles.

 

The bullets in their heads & groins

quieting like a day. The meat of nothing.

 

I held their million heads in my lap when the bodies were taken away.

I don’t know if what’s left will dance or burn.

I wash their eyelids with mint.

But let God beg pardon to them & their mothers

 

& I don’t know if the body is a pendulum of where love cannot go

when the tongue is swollen with the milk of black boys.

I pulled their lives from the trees & lawns & schools.

The unlit houses & the river. Their forewings wet

with clouds

 

& screaming. I won’t leave them,

huddled like bulls inside the stall of a word. I am the shriek,

the suture, the petal

shook loose from their silence.