Only we make beautiful things just to destroy them
After the exhibition “La Gravedad de Los Asuntos (Matters of Gravity)” The Mexicans and the Russians were always in on it This is collaboration in zero gravity democracy —blurry violet lights and no clear answer This is a nuclear glow in the dark so we can start over We board planes to Mars and six engines fire You spin away. It’s candy guts out here—all our voting machines are breaking You tumble and can’t stop, but Grab a harness—an adult pigtail Six plane engines click on and your homie has to Push you so you can swing at the exploding star A way of thinking, una estructura doblada Alguien cortó oropel azul en cuadritos And stuffed it into the piñata. A yellow paleta Big as a chicken, floats to the right hand corner and balances Tipping into the comrade’s hands What’s a layer of confetti and candy compared to DDT The kind you sprayed over all our naked bodies We’re diamonds: hard, shiny, and we Get processed to go through We don’t infest, pendejo. We invest There goes your friend again, diving toward The paleta, which has to be pineapple flavor We were always in on it together Me and my honey watch a video on loop We gently hold each other like the beach balls we are The light dims and that constellation swings Only one Russian cosmonaut will smile at a time They watch a compa swim away Reach out Don’t make someone else do your work for you Some of us were grounded The whole time
Copyright © 2018 by Vickie Vértiz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“The video installation that inspired this poem shows engineers from Russia and artists from Mexico floating in the belly of a plane in zero gravity (of course someone brought a piñata). My poem tries to remind us that as our countries are built on shameful acts of violence against the most vulnerable—the unarmed, the queer, children, refugees fleeing violence we fueled—we need to find and activate our allies. People have endured broken voting systems, survived being sprayed with DDT to enter the country, and much more, yet we must celebrate and keep surviving. The poem instructs us to get up, to do our work, and get between speech and harm.”
Vickie Vértiz is the author of Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut (University of Arizona Press, 2017), winner of the PEN America Literary Prize in poetry.
Date Published: 2019-01-15
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/only-we-make-beautiful-things-just-destroy-them