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Roy G. Guzmán


As if to give up counting the slew of brown bodies

floating with their eyes wielded to the sky—because

we have trained in at least one position when dying,

though we disguise inheriting any knowledge of such

travesties—the guava trees abandon their bridal veils

in the branches of those who firmly believe dwelling

is carried under the skin, not in the limbs of what can flee.

And for a moment, his face crosses her face, their hands

fractured by the planks—or you can say recovery springs

from slaughter. Time in exodus: the bone-horticulture

under the swirling cloak of death…

—How is this not

about the dissolution of friendship, the migratory birds

passing through the neo-necropolis? If we are mostly

displaced water—staggered, vigilant—when we drown

we are asking the flood tides to be gentler as we pray

away insufficiency. We, too, will drink to vanity. If only

I could trill in the range of loss without forgetting the angst

in my body—where the clouds coalesce around the ditch

to rename it rain. While the dried blood, they call desire.


Then a wealthy Israeli student with a modeling career

and a military history invites us broke émigrés

to his apartment for drinks, our black shirts unbuttoned

in thirty-degree weather, with a strange fatigue

from dancing to M.I.A.’s galang a lang a lang lang

our bodies piled on the dorm room couch like raccoons

from an outtake of Fellini’s Satyricon, minus the garlands,

minus the sugar daddies, minus the staged processions,

except processions are my forte, because I’m called

out for dressing like an aimless widow every summer,

deplumed messiah, and when another guest, the underage

daughter of a conservative politician from California

turns to me and says she can’t find me attractive because

I’m Latino, what of the clinical light in the kitchen, what

of the lazy glow of the sci-fi helmeted lamps in the living

room, cartoonish but instinctively Ma nuit chez Maud,

the mariner’s despair, how silence is the outside world

wanting to barge back in and claim the dispossessed body,

the body tousled on the stained carpet, to then taking

courses on Milton’s divorce treatises, on binaries, on anti-

poetry, on mea culpas, postmodern Hail Marys, and how

I’d been told that following the Fall we grew proficient

at finding each other naked everywhere, in the nascent

bones of a fawn, in the wilderness of my brown skin,

in the voice boxes of tree trunks, because I’m always leaving

countries behind or maybe I can’t get rid of my For Rent

signs decisively, and how the Fall is maybe symbolic

for how deep we’ll burrow within us to still blame ourselves

for holding the map of rejection, that map with subjugated

creases, see Fig. 1 for assemblage, see Fig 2. for the leper

who cries for clemency in the metaphor, where I worry

for the bones of the misfits who roam in the sewage system

beneath the tombs of my future fathers, their perilous dicks,

the Tacomas, the Kodachromes, the paintbrushes,

because it takes a mind of calcification to receive the grace

of that radiant refugee in the sky that’s always intended

to touch us Here is my heavenly handle Here are my salt-

wounded arms for what decides to live outside of absence

but the thing that dreams of intangible rooms, and my savior,

how he’ll sit at the table, promising more than the allegory.


The two-hearted spirit-spider generates blood

portraitures out of lies

which in due course

mutate into forked

tongues in my mouth—those daggers

I’m too hesitant to brandish.

Poets often speak

of the residual pain

left behind when language has been fractured—

but how little we understand

where to mend the cartilage,

re-stitch our ghosts.

Sarah: you are the mutant

mutants are too ashamed to mention.

La Maricona. La Pata. La Bullet-Riddled

Puta—bystander of mauled angels,

one of those bastard superheroes

who owe the earth / nothing.

Your social worker writes down:

She demonstrates exemplary

movement of the Aristotelian

model: exposure,

rising shame, crown of thorns, bastardization—

the metaphysical resolution.

I fell in love with a man once

who was forced as a child to swallow his own

vomit when he couldn’t eat anymore. The failure

of line breaks when some cuts won’t bleed.

Every evening,

after sex, I could hear

the whirring of the blender:

bone bone bone

prayer prayer

Nothing has boundaries

in the ways I’m willing

to worship. Who cares for baptism

when the body

is excess holiness waiting to combust.


Roy G. Guzmán is a Honduran writer, raised in Miami, and a current MFA student in poetry at the University of Minnesota. His work has appeared or will appear in The Adroit Journal, Word Riot, Reservoir, Connotation Press, and Notre Dame Review. Roy is the poetry editor for Sundog Lit, and the recipient of a Pushcart prize nomination and a Gesell Award honorable mention in fiction. In February, he attended the fourth Letras Latinas Writers Initiative gathering, sponsored by Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, in partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the MFA Program at Arizona State University. Roy will serve this summer as the Scribe for Human Rights at the University of Minnesota, focusing on issues that affect migrant farm workers.

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