Francis Thomas Sanchez
Three times in my life I failed to deploy my armies on time,
failed to unstrap my armor and lay down my shields,
expose my chest, honest.
Three times there has been an eclipse for which I wasn't equipped to see.
Sometimes I'd mistake your occurrence with that of a natural disaster.
I'd take cover.
Not willing to pardon my fears for a chance to dance with a hurricane
who identified himself as a tropical storm.
They say the difference is miles per hour.
We all know the difference is in how they allow themselves to be perceived.
On the days you touched down
beneath my armor
your aftermath was a smile that broke my face.
I was born with a need for earthquake scars but you
came to my landscape with conquer chest
convinced my natives to dance different.
You showed up with hunting, soil aggregation, and medicine.
I laid down my virgins for you in sacrifice.
In your presence all my armor turned to tent sheet
transparent in the moonlight
until the fire went out.
Three times in my life I failed to peel back my Band-Aids fast enough.
Offer up my wounds for healing.
Yes, there is blood beneath these words,
there's a man on the other side of this voice, clutching
on a stone he soon realizes- his heart.
He's done slain the last of the dragons,
come back to a vacant cave, weeping
he talks to the skeleton that surrounds him,
swears the sky is as thin as his flesh,
swears he hears a voice on the other side
talking in terms of confession.
Three times in my life I can say, you're married now.
We speak to each other through veils.
It doesn't matter how much liquor we drink in tandem
or the size of the table between us
or the volume and shape of the laugh
or the impression that's left by the hug,
you're married now.
I was right to feel like a farmhouse on the wrong side of a tornado warning.
Where everything weighs nothing.
In the midst of a drought I retrofit my barnyard with castle walls,
pine over how I'm perceived,
pray for rain,
and practice my best impression of a storm cloud
because there's a man on the other side of this wind tunnel
and I'm tired of letting him down.
Honesty is a naked truth standing
in the middle of a clear desert
on a pale moon night
with skin the color of temperature,
eyes the depth of oceans,
a glass of whisky in one hand
and an invitation to forgiveness in the other.
Let's be honest.
I'm your Get Well card.
I musta got lost in the mail but I'm here now.
Follow my instructions.
Now it's your turn-
be my acceptance letter.
Be my eleventh birthday wish.
Be my lifetime supply of ego boosts.
Be my church bell, be my armor,
be my porn.
I've got a few decades left
and I was kinda lookin' for somebody to spend 'em with.
Let's burn calendars like the universe burns stars.
You'll find a lot objects in this galaxy get struck by meteors.
Lucky for you, all my ugly's on the surface.
Get past that
and you're good.
The whisky is for celebration.
The invitation is BYOB.
I don't know how to talk to you
without feeling like neon red siren screaming ambulance
with bad brakes and a blown tire
hauling through a busy intersection
where the crosswalks are full of children
And you're a pedestrian
soon to be in need of my stretcher.
When I was a student in science class learning the nine planets
I used to imagine that Jupiter was in love with Saturn.
That's how I made sense of the rings.
In every diagram they were always side by side
and so much larger than their counterparts.
Just like lovers with chests stuck out,
swelling from the size of the love they've got stuck in their ribcage.
We all know that couple.
Just rubbing it in.
That was Saturn and Jupiter. In my head.
As I imagined them. So big.
Until I learned about orbit.
Look, I just flew over the city of your residence.
If you looked up you might've seen me.
I'm going to pretend I saw you from here-
I'm still at this end of the telescope and you're still an astrological body.
In all my metaphors you're unearthed, capable of flight,
solar panel lighthouse, walks on moon water, astronaut trainer in training,
gentle giant with kite string hair, earthquake arms, and lunar eyes.
You always leave your light on.
At least for me. Even though we've learned to keep good distance.
Passing each other in the dark night of the solar system.
The wings of this plane are stronger than me.
Cause it was all I could do to keep from parachuting my way back into your sight-lines.
You know, there's a red spot on Jupiter the width of three Earths.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, want us to believe
that it's actually an ancient monster storm.
I'm still not entirely convinced that it's not a broken heart.
I was daydreaming about the hoverboard that was promised to me
in the sequel to Back To The Future when you big-banged my mindset
with a universe of thought that I was not ready to comprehend.
All you said was, do you think koi fish were typecast?
As if some ancient Japanese fisherman noticed that that fish in particular
was more reserved than the others. I can picture him
paddling quietly across the Caspian Sea as he notices these fish,
looks down through his own reflection and says, you seem artfully shy.
You remind me that historically and geographically speaking,
my story makes no sense. And that the fisherman would not speak English.
I remind you that at the rate we're going, we'll probably die
before we find out how this life ends.
You remind me that we're all fossils in waiting.
This was on the back porch of the house you lived at in Santa Barbara.
There was a mountain to our right and an ocean to our left.
This was in between puffs of your cigarette.
I remind you that sometimes you throw yourself out there like propellers
so I threw myself down like a launch-pad-made-for-landing-
not knowing anything about trajectory- hoping to show you
that there are some people out here who know the importance of landing whole.
You retreat to your smart phone, search Google, load a satellite image,
point to the smallest blue pixel, See that? You say.
That's Earth. Everything we will ever know happened on that dot.
I thought about Newt's completely feasible moon colony and the first moon-born human.
I thought about illegal aliens and inalienable rights.
But I didn't say anything.
We just sat there in perfect silence
like two ukuleles wanting to be acoustic guitars,
perfectly tuned, painted in moon reflection, I said, what are we doing?
And you didn't have to ask.
You knew. When I said we, I meant the species.
“and everywhere there’s statues with their arms open wide
surrounded by fences that you, you can’t get inside”
- Jay Brannan
Let’s call her by her name, Statue of Strip Your Nationality.
When she came into this world she was copper as a battery, shiny.
She was broken into fractions of herself, placed on a boat,
shipped across an ocean and constructed in the name of Libertas,
the Roman goddess of freedom.
Don’t kid yourself, she’s French-American. At best.
She’s embarrassed to admit the number of tourists she’s had
climb inside her for a taste of her liberty.
Bring me your decency!
Bring me your hollow promises!
Bring me your cameras!
Take pictures of the things we believe in.
Bring these pictures back to our ancestors and show them.
Mira! Look! Voir! This is what freedom buys!
Us. And our statues. Frozen.
There’s a metaphor standing between New York City and Staten Island
and she’s fucking cold.
We couldn’t even give her shoes- how symbolic.
She’s been standing barefoot in the middle of the Atlantic wearing less than a jacket on the coldest of winter nights, eyes locked and begging for a place to call home.
When was the last time you stood with that much conviction
When you hear my name is there an electrical storm in your brain
caused by my presence still existing there—inside shouting HOLD ON.
Hold on and I’ll tell you an inspirational story about anchors— and
the burdens they bear. Because just in case you’re wondering, your
presence definitely still illuminates whenever I hear your name or
a reference to the universe we built around each other, you bounce
around the padded walls of my brain screaming LET GO. Let go and
I’ll tell you a really funny joke about straitjackets— and the
hugs they give.
We stain our shirts with oil
as we ash our cigarettes
into the mouths of blue whales
and pretend that we don’t choke
when we say,
The world is our oyster.
We should pry her, unwillingly
and utilize her
most intimate resources
to better our-slick-selves.
There’s always somebody, willing
to cross the line.
Teach a man to fish
and he’ll learn to kill dolphins.
We aren’t the painters or the paintings,
we’re the products;
oil, rigs, and watercolors
I'm a lightweight and a cheap date.
I've got reassurance in my corner
and I'm willing to stand my ground.
I will not hit the mat.
Even if I fall, I'll probably fall but I will not stay down.
Right hook and I'm on par.
Wounded. But standing.
My bout with confidence -- a true heavyweight.
The only thing that will collapse
is a little tent labeled insecurity,
it's a piss-yellow tent they typically set up near the entrance
staffed with two guards built like bulldozers,
who have the longevity of snow -- and fall just as easily
because they know the truth,
because they only speak in lies,
because the only security they offer is the lack thereof,
because they know that I have used words with more purpose
than they harness in any of their possessions.
Jab. Gut. Eye.
And I'm fourteen thousand feet above -- and you look radiant awesome,
from up here you look stellar and harmonious.
From up here any omnipresence would be content with its creation.
From up here everything shimmers.
Stars. Blurred. Focus. Pulled.
It's when we get down -- face to face --
on the surface -- in the details --
this is where we find discomfort
embodied in the discontent of being knocked out
Remember, that chaos first was a primordial deity,
Chaos; the nothingness from which all else sprang
headfirst and heartfelt,
half-naked and handsome,
hook, line and... halibut.
All of this,
every measurable moment,
every object set forth in motion
sprang from a void so harmoniously
as if the absence of everything was kissed
by the presence of something.
Often depicted with wings, a bow, and a quiver of arrows,
Cupid, son of Venus - goddess of love,
son of Mercury - god of trade,
almost identical in Greek and in Roman
his story, about a couple of gods
who seem so inherently human by nature,
jolted by jealousy,
dumbstruck by beauty,
hellbent on immortality,
his story has been hallmarked
as red hot velvet rose petal fine wine
and symmetrical hearts.
Wrapped in tin foil red ribbons
dipped in thin layer of chocolate
taste-tested and lover approved.
Remember that scene in Hook
where Tinkerbell leaves her footprints on Peter's chest,
well that's you and that's me--
touch me where my heart beats
because I don't ever wanna be a lost boy.
I wanna grow up like a good bedtime story
I wanna have meaning.
You might say that Cupid found himself.
You might say that Psyche found her soul.
You might say that Tinkerbell was just faking it--
with the clapping.
Truth is, we can never know the whole story--
the complete truth.
Problem is, we think we can
and act like we do.
So the only time we mean what we say
is the first time we say it,
every utterance thereafter is just an attempt
at recreating a moment.
I love you
is a paraphrase
that deserves three separate ellipses
because there's a lot left unsaid.
I (distinctively remember shadow-boxing with)
love (against a star-dotted sky anchored to a
moonlight so vibrant it can only be compared to)
you (and your tidal waves).
And that's where I fell
headfirst and handsome.
I (was punched-drunk by a kiss so breathless
that it spiked my dopamine to a volume
that can only be described as) love
(in that every time my neurotransmitters feel) you
(they spin themselves dizzy and dance to your science).
There was a moment in the absence of everything
when I was kissed silent by the presence of something.
Hold me to your breastplate.
I don't ever wanna go back to the void.
I found my voice in a pocket of oxygen buried in my gut,
it was a hot air balloon
backlit by the aura of my lungs,
my chest was the sky that coughed it up.
Knowing that we are water-based creations
like the last spoon of pancake batter,
I wear my impermanence like Jupiter wears her red spot.
I wear my fears like continents wear mountains,
pointing them toward the sky,
hoping to someday adhere a sticker to my chest that reads,
THIS CAR CLIMBED MT. COMMITMENT
I have the scars to prove it.
My mother carried me like the last drop of water in a desert canteen,
there was no need for a soft spot; I was headstrong.
I brought the kitchen to the gun fight.
Held my hands to the stove top
turned my back to the knife rack
kept one foot in the door jam and my mouth to the bedpan,
just in case these words washed my mouth out.
Most people never get close enough to recognize
that the smile on my face is written in Braille--
but you've always been there with a blind eye
reading my innuendos
and holding me to my words.
When your marathon feet hit the pavement
it's a lot like Buddy Wakefield at a typewriter
striking the first letter of the word benevolence--
You taught me how to b b b b b in the moment.
Even at my most negative
when my body is a hearse,
this heart is a corpse
and this life is a road-trip from funeral parlor to graveyard,
so that I may have spent my entire life in the company of mourners,
who loved me.
Even at my most positive
when my body is a universe,
this heart is Hatch Shell located on the south bank of the Charles River
swelling with the sounds of the Boston Pops
and this life is everything leading up to the Big Bang,
so that I may have spent the entirety of my life in the company of creation.
Even on the night we met—same night I found my voice
we stayed up to watch Lake Michigan come to life in a pocket of oxygen
under a Chicago sunrise so inescapably underwhelming
it was covered by clouds.
But we were not disappointed.
Even though all of our rainbows have been stitched into flags,
draped over coffins
and buried by the same people who taught us to believe
in optical illusions.
Our hearts were not drawn by Jeremy Fish,
we're not weighted in fiction,
we did not have heartstrings rigged by Geppetto.
No, we were not disappointed,
this was nothing like (I still remember) when we learned
that we couldn't all be Mouseketeers.
Disappointment is a pastime that we reconciled
when we laid our grandmothers to rest
and recognized that their tombs did not believe in resurrections.
The past is a hot air balloon hoisting us up to a sky we'll never see.
I get it.
I'm not lookin' down.
We are old enough to know the truth.
The light at the end of the tunnel is behind us,
that's where we came from.
We are not running from it.
There's no looking back.
People still ask me about you as if you were a standard operating procedure.
People still don't get it.
People still say; it's better to have loved and lost
than to have--
What people don't seem to understand is that I don't dig epilogues,
I don't speak with punctuation, I don't end with period. and I don't capitalize.
I'll sleep with a pillow softer than your self-consciousness
and even though I don't speak in redundancies, allow me to repeat myself
'cause I know you're not takin' notes
'cause you're the type of person who likes to hang on a moment
and own it
but do me just one favor
in this minute minute, please
that you've got too many easels
and not enough paint
and self-expression is moot if the canvas is blank.
I'll sleep on my good side
so that tomorrow when people ask me about you as if I have a degree in your ology
at least i'll look well-rested when I tell them
that I used to cry when i wrote you letters
and how I used to write for you
and how in my head I STILL paint renaissance paintings of you
and how they hang in this cranium like a sixteenth century mausoleum
because genius is driven by affection
and affection knows
that we were born with more voices than our mouths could house
and so some of them got swallowed.
But genius -- genius knows nothing.
Genius knows that we do things with our mouths sometimes,
like when we kiss or cough or collaborate.
Thus genius is driven by affection
and affection made you my muse.
So please listen to the words of a man who knows where his voice has been;
if you were made of construction paper
and a few shades red-er
I'd glue love to you
l-o-v-e, spelled out in pasta pieces,
sprinkled in the glitter of hugs and kisses,
I'd hold you lovingly in my hands and give you--
to somebody else.
We come to a complete stop.
At a red light.
We wear our arms like seat-belts-
crossed for protecting our pilot lights.˚
I can't help but wonder how many airbags might deploy
if a meteor crashed headfirst and heavyset into the planet
and pancaked us eternally into this moment-
and how our fossils would look confused;
funeral flowers on a wedding cake.
None of this matters, we're both thinking it,
God is a foster child playing with his erector set.
You grin with as much conviction as a dented automobile,
breaking the months of silence to say,
"I miss you."
We can never fold these road maps back the way they came.
Somewhere existentially above this moment, there is an asterisk
you- are here.
There was a younger version of me that you never got to meet,
he was here once,
stupid as a slinky.
Shaken like an Etch-A-Sketch.
Crooked as the question mark that punctuated his voice.
I looked good in hydroplane,
my eyes- bigger than my belly,
so I drank my weight in promises- I knew would be hard to keep within arms reach.
I also knew an encyclopedia's worth of how it felt to lie to myself.
I did it for twenty-three years
until I finally let go of stupid and held on to reason.
At some age I wrote letters to my favorite musicians,
using the sloppiest side of my penmanship, I'd ask for answers
and my mother, like a paperclip, used to tell me - she'd say,
"Kiddo, just because they don't respond
doesn't mean they didn't get the message."
She kept her chest of hope upstairs, away from the living room.
She only opened it on the hallow end of October;
that's where she kept the blankets.
Shy, I kept my hope chest covered in a T-shirt-
at the very least.
I never opened up.
I emptied my toy box of all its fiction, filled it with voices.
Deployed an army of rubber wrestlers, martial arts amphibians
and those inanimate toy soldiers with plastic parachutes attached
in search of the confidence I knew was supposed to belly-flop inside of me.
It hid, unfound for decades.
Until you entered.
Hawaiian domino effect, circus of chain reactions, avalanche of affirmation, chest-plate yielding gravity mouth speaking brightest anything forever night light, all apex and eyelash and cheekbone.
You -from big island- broke me.
I opened like the dry side of an umbrella, kept my back turned for shielding you.
I showed up for love on time, like a subway train in echelon city
wanting these arms to feel less like turnstiles.
All my sign languages were in waves.
All my ceilings turned to skies.
All my jitters packed into my hunger stomach.
Typing hyper with caffeinated hands
a swarm of nervous words bee-hiving in my butterfly chest.
Something like a hummingbird
when I finally drop your name like an alarm clock whisper
my lungs empty like cathedrals on the day after Christmas.
I brought the sermon to your Sundays,
you brought the choir to my masses.
We built a church around these esophagus bell towers.
Held ourselves up to the stained glass and showed off our light;
I swear I don't believe in a lot of things, God knows,
but there's always a but,
so much as I believe in the eternal depth of everything,
so much as I believe that we'd have plenty of water if it weren't for salt,
so much as I believe in eight marbles rolling around a gas lamp,
I believed we'd find a way.
'Cause in all the ways my sky could never hold you- and I mean this-
I believed in you- same way some people believe in Jesus.
Because you never judged my albatross mouth when I said things like,
"Self deprecation is the new love."
You kissed me-
less like doorstop,
more like lighthouse illuminating windmill.
You were a merry-go-round pivot decorated in Kona coffee beans, Christmas lights, cough syrup, paper mache pineapples, plastic dinosaur bones, a collection of worn-out Asics, board shorts and a dubstep remix broadcast through the static of a blown-out rotary phone.
You were everything I could get my hands on-
A full-tilt action-packed kaleidoscope jungle
with blender tongue and volcano heart.
I looked good in your sad panda coat tails,
teaspoon swallowing my doubts
while you Tarzaned my ability to breathe,
gave me ocean view and weak knees.
Is that sea breeze in your aftermath or are there already tears in my happiness?
You came camouflage out of my blind spot dressed in magnet armor,
diving board and drum set.
We passionbent cymbals into cannonballs.
I found comfort between your breastplate and your shoulder blades,
where you held me like a promise
when all my wishing was for want
and all your wanting was for wishes
I know that there were days when you couldn't help but wake up like gorilla speaking Pidgin
and I couldn't help but waking up like an abandoned highway with a chip on my shoulder-
some maps don't show this much detail, Google Earth-
Which is why I always came through for you like a well-lit citrus truck stop
pressed against the dusk in your moonlight life crisis.
We only saw stars.
From our moon base.
In bewilderment, in our hunger, we learned
that if you hold me to my vending machines you'll get what you pay for.
So here it is, the truth, as I have always known it,
delivered to you on the outskirts of an echo,
my voice, supporting my existence like a monolith.
I'm standing in the middle of a you-shaped hole.
It's as wide as a promise crater-
we built it together.
It's not my favorite place to stand
but the exit strategies are made in the shape of a me that I haven't constructed yet.
I had a lot of things planned.
I referred to things as "ours",
when I really meant "please".
Bury me in your time lapse.
When your emotional excavators discover me in your sediment
they'll find me all pterodactyl-
wings spread wide as potential, sky-diving toward forgiveness,
Truth is, I'm wingless.
We met at a stop sign.
Our paths crossed.
There's a lot of accidents at some intersections.
Maybe it's because that's not where those two roads were supposed to meet.
We can't time machine argue with the way things landed.
We weren't an avoidable accident.
We were just two cars that really wanted to dance.
I don't know what I'm trying to say but I know when I mean it.
There's a tyrannosaurus rex cradled head-to-tail just behind my curator heart-
all fossil spine, monster teeth, jaw head and piano hands.
His presence says a lot about the past.
There's an asterisk on the surface,
above this moment,
that confirms with absolute certainty,
˚something wicked awesome happened here.
You can hear me read this here: http://tumblr.com/xft51gwrf0
This is a conversation I had with God.
In which I told the silence of my room
that surrealism is the only ism in which God makes total sense.
I could see the chalk whites of his teeth trying to bite down on his words
but before they could be derailed his tongue caught wind and his words assailed
as he said, "I hate surrealism."
As if his words would never be caught dead in an urn
sometimes his mouth looked more like a jail in an Old Western
and his thoughts fought like criminals desperate to break out
until they finally found a way to use his tongue as an escape route.
"No, I don't hate surrealism," he says
"I just hate surrealism as a movement."
Upon hearing this my spine coils like a wine-corker-spiral-staircase
upward; where my brain plugs my cranium like a cork
and my eyes drip like blank canvas,
I am one hollow statue decaying in a melting structure
with wax in my ears I feed landscapes to winged insects
as I drown in pools of water/color.
Behind me is a sky so burlesque it actually looks like the clouds are crying.
Under me is a ground so vast it has nine horizons wrapped in a double helix.
Reconstructed beside me is a tree so old it could be the same wood as The Crucifix.
Nested inside me where my spine should be is a coat rack made crooked by the weight of all-nighters.
The texture of my skin makes it look like god paints with typewriters.
"No, no," he says, his voice turning melancholy, atomic, uranic, idyll,
"I don't hate surrealism as a movement,
because hate's such a strong word. Oh god, I guess I just don't get it."
Now I'm overcome with a sincere desire to light an entire herd of giraffes on fire
and sip wine beneath the light as if it were dinner by candlelight,
"Seriously?" I say. "Under giraffes, in this light
I can't tell if you're Lincoln or Jesus.
In fact, we all look like swans with elephant reflections.
Your trunk is a trumpet.
Don't even get me started on where we derive our visions of god
from where I stand everything casts a shadow in the shape of where it's heading
and the sky, vast and pale and open, the sky is the only all-seer
and the truth is far less surreal:
if your demons are ants then your god is an anteater."
I can see the chalk whites of his teeth stall door,
squeaky hinge, his mouth-
occupied with a realization he can't pronounce.
A pause as pregnant as a desert landscape,
ornamented with butterflies.
His head is an empty room with an evaporating skylight,
his ears, hang like clocks on a half-wall, melting.
The escalator to his brain is a spiral staircase moving in reverse.
His eyelids peel back like the last page of a two-dimensional book.
I can see with my Spellbound eyes, we are finally on the same page.
When his tongue curls back into his saloon jaw
like a bee sting rifle shot back into the mouth of a lunging tiger,
swallowed deep into the wells of a fish belly.
"I'm sorry" he says, "that's not what I meant."