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Jun 2022 · 228
The Fitting
Jonathan Moya Jun 2022
When her maman died
Marie flew ten hours to
the ancient French village
where the houses
steepled the church,
their mansard roofs
brown from neglect.  
The Weeping Willow
in front of maman’s
weathered hovel
did not match
Marie’s feelings.  
It never did.

Inside the furniture
had aged into antiques.
The handmade chaises
with ladder backs and
unadorned ticking,
French oak dinning table,
the vaisellier darker from
decades of hearth ash.

The rose print wallpaper had
faded to shadow bands,
the town print on the mantle
now almost sepia,
her first crib picture a fading
black and  white dream.

Maman’s single bed existed
pushed into the corner
of a windowless chambre,
almost a frenzied fever
blue room delusion of
Van Gogh’s last dying days.

Hanging alone in the closet was
maman’s noir widow’s dress,
the one Marie imagined maman
would be buried in.  That was
until Claire, the old neighbor next
door, gave Marie maman’s ashes
in a simple wooden box
with a gold filigreed clasp.
Pinned to the dress was Maman’s
will written in her eloquent hand
on unlined French folio.

These cinders, this shuddering land,
this dress with all its memories,
and grief would be her inheritance.  

Marie held the dress to her as
she returned to the archway
of the still open door.
The lace sleeves were  shorter
than she remembered,
but it would fit her very well.
Just beyond her, the country road
with its oaks grasping for union
stubbornly remained a horse trail.
Jun 2022 · 190
The Red String
Jonathan Moya Jun 2022
Her mother’s tale of the red string
foretold that Miko and Makoto
would be together,
tied little finger to little finger
by a taut invisible  blood line.
What she didn’t tell her
was that the line would fray,
break, need to be
retied over and over.

In their wedding photos
Makoto would stand stiff,
sincere in his white suit,
chrysanthemum in lapel,
hands by his sides,
close to her but
never really touching.
Miko in her red-white kimono
was almost a shrine
with butterfly ribbons,
a sigh more than a smile
adorning her face.

She imagined years
of ritual devotion
turning the gown gray,
the white high heels into
black sensible pumps.
Her gaze would eventually
never match Makoto,
it would rest on her feet,
turn inward until
she saw only herself
alone on the shore.

Makoto would spend
long hours in his cubicle,
drawing house after house
for others to live and work in.
At home the drawings would
fall into an exhausted heap
on the living room sofa
forming a charcoal pillow
for his weary head.  

Miko would put away
the uneaten food,
separating half  
into a bento box for
Makoto’s next day’s lunch,
the other half reserved cold
for her own silent noon meals.
She would dry her hands
on the old never worn
yellow girl’s onesie cleverly
repurposed to a dish rag.

Her mind drifted back to the time
they visited the Snow Monkeys of
Jigokudani bathing in their hot spring.
She would watch a mother macaque
and infant slipping their fingers
in and out of each other forming
rose strings in the slow rippling splash
until the last echo almost touched her womb.
She listlessly gazed at her feet as she
listened to Makato denounce
the silly animal antics she delighted in,
how he snarled out without regret
“Akachan wa noroidesu”
(Babies are a curse.)
Nevertheless he gladly purchased
the commemorative photo of them,
taken at the park’s entrance,
of them posing stiffly because
it echoed their wedding one.

On the bullet train back to Tokyo
she felt sick and rushed to the toilet.
There, Miko knew the yellow secret  
bought at Akachan  Honpo the
day before and hiding in her purse
would become a dish rag.
In the hygienic blue flushing water.
her hope turned to grief
and her grief became a silent wail
that emptied out, a crimson string.

Seated in her assigned chair
she glared at Makoto
staring out the train window
searching the darkening horizon.
He never turned his face to her.
He didn’t even know she was next to him.
Miko stared at the walls, stifling a sigh.

Inside her the red string
shriveled, then broke.
Her sky rearranged
to a desert. Her precious
water evaporated.

She awoke to Makoto,
saying not a word,
entering and shuffling
to the sofa.  

The gas stove hissed.
The yellow dish rag
laid close to the flame.
Another uneaten meal
existed unwanted on
the dining room table.

Miko, this one time,
never bothered to
awaken Makoto.
She walked to the
balcony searching
hard for but neither
finding sky nor horizon—
only houses,
some which Makoto drew,
surrounded her.
She put little finger
to little finger together
then pulled them apart.
Looking down,
Miko knew she
was destined to fall.
Jonathan Moya Jun 2022
If you wish to know who
really owns the land
look at the faces the wind
has carved into the mountains.
Jonathan Moya Jun 2022
The blind do not need blindfolds.
They wear shades just for us
even as we turn our eyes away.
We give them a stick to see.

The one-legged woman
stands just as tall
as the two-legged man.

The blind man in the wheelchair can go far,
but he can go twice as far if he holds on to
the frame of the friend peddling besides him.
The water basin in his lap is for all to share
for the sun shines brightly and makes us thirst.
Jonathan Moya Jun 2022
It wasn’t
all the popcorn, hotdogs, candy
eaten in the dark that killed her.
Those things just caught up with her.

It wasn’t
all the boxes piled high
and then tumbling on her that cracked
her head and made her a corpse.
All that junk just caught up with her.

It wasn’t
all those clothes hung up on clotheslines
strung through her small apartment
that garroted her red, white and blue.
All that designer stuff just caught up with her.

It wasn’t
all the pots, pans and dishes in the sink
that needed to be scrubbed squeaky clean
that drowned her in less than a foot of water.
All those cookbook recipes just caught up with her.

It wasn’t
all those mops, sponges, buckets and brooms,
the bleaches, ammonia and other chemical cleaners
that gouged her lady parts and asphyxiated her too.
It’s just all that housekeeping caught up with her.

It wasn’t
all those books in floor to ceiling IKEA cases
that bibliated, Dewey Decimated her away.
It’s just all that knowledge caught up with her.

It wasn’t
all those fine soaps, shampoos and conditioners
that shrunk, desiccated and dissolved her away.
It was all that cleanliness that wasn’t next to
godliness that caught up with her.

It wasn’t
all those un-filed files that shocked
her coworkers, just her decapitated
head rolling on the company floor.
All that work just caught up with her.

On her tombstone it was etched:
May 2022 · 192
Shadow Geometry
Jonathan Moya May 2022
at what point do shadows become
numbers and numbers become dust

is it when sunlight and moonlight cross
the eye into our anatomical darkness

when the zero circle helixes into short
existence a rose, a cell, a dying memory

when raindrops no longer liquefaction,
leaving umbrellas a meaningless prop

or the grid that passes over unnoticed
during the slow, long ride to the hospital

maybe, the strobe of light that moves
from office cubicle to office cubicle

possibly the shadows that dance while
you clean precisely calibrated glasses

try to focus on those rain smeared
figures now in your field of view

remembering they once were you on
the half lit steps staring into the dark

watching the three triangle flapping
of the crow over the tarmac
May 2022 · 151
Life’s Moments
Jonathan Moya May 2022
The child looks out her toy window
and imagines her adult self sailing  
on the blue ocean of the old hat box
that holds her communion veil.
Her childhood dances alone
along the berm’s dawn light as
the sloop plies onto the sand.
They hug and gallop horses
******* in the vanishing mist
while Tess, the sea turtle fairy,
prepares a picnic spread on
play plates filled with strawberry
swirls, blue napkins tucked into
triangles, and origami sandwiches
with the crust cut off, of course.

The adult stares out her picture
window and before noticing
the green lushness of all things
just outside her purview,
catches the reflection of
her wrinkle hands atop
her wrinkled knees—
and the stale crumb
from her breakfast toast
falling to the floor
for her cat to sniff.
May 2022 · 95
A History of Dying Spaces
Jonathan Moya May 2022
Only my grandmother came home to die.
Her centuries old home was built
with a birthing and dying room,
two small bedrooms, a library
and as was custom, no parlor

She went through the process of life
in private but away from the spaces
entirely reserved for birth and death.

Home was a place where she ate,
sat still, stared and meditated
day after day at the place where she
came from and would finally end up.
That was the way it was suppose to be.

On that day, she sat in her old mahogany
birthing chair and closed her eyes
until they no longer fluttered.
Her hand fell on what was my mother’s
old crib, rocking it three times.  
She was moved to the smaller room
long prepared for her body.
Her dying room had no light,
just a small bed with fluffy pillows.

My mother was a living woman.
When she bought her Miami house
near the beach and the bay
she made certain there were
no birthing and dying spaces,
just lots and lots of living areas:
four bedrooms, a sunken living room
that took more than half the space,
a well-breathed kitchen, a good size
open Florida room and beyond that
a screened-in clear blue pool
equal to the size of the living room.
This was the way she knew it was
suppose to be for her and for us.

She died on a flesh covered La-Z-Boy
in the TV-room of a much smaller house,
the arm rest worn through by constant
gripping, the foot rest half kicked off from
the convulsion prior to the hear attack.
I had just returned from seeing
Fatal Attraction at the mall Megaplex.
Thirty-five years later I’ve yet to rewatch it.

My father must have been thinking of his death
when he built his open house atop the charred ruins
of a post Civil War estate with servant quarters and
stables that overlooked Frenchman’s Cove in Maine.
The house was a wing cut from the air and
nailed to the rocky shore. The gentle waters of the bay
ached daily to caress the sighing foundation beneath
as if the water and air always knew and was now
retelling the story of every birth and death in the
front and back spaces  of  their proper time.
My father  found peace there and  called it Tranquility.
But the soil and tide knew from the soft screech
of the sky that he would be denied his wish to die there.  

My father, a doctor, specialized in obstetric anesthesia,
and started his.practice just on the fringe when
birthing rooms were yielding to maternity wards.
On a bright day in his study overlooking the bay,
when he stared looking like he might be
turning the corner on a recent malady,
he turned pale and gray and short of breath.
He was passed from smaller hospital
to bigger hospital until he finally landed
in the University hospital where he taught
for many years, in a private room amidst
the throbbing and beeping of machines
he was intimately comfortable with.

On his second day in hospice, the machines
where disconnected and under the lightest
of anesthetic drugs he took his last sleep.
The interns said it was an honor
to treat him until his last dying breath.

I don’t know if I will pass in a dying room
of my choosing.  it will certainly be far
removed from the room I was born.
Most likely I will die in the wrong place,
like most everyone else. As you have
read, the odds are less than one in three.
that nature or fate or God will get it right.  

Time is too much about different
arrangements of proximity to be relied on.
So much depends on who goes in front of me.
Who is besides me and/or behind me.
Or just elsewhere, missing, soon to come.
it all depends on how attenuated I am
to the living and dying spaces around me.
How undoubtedly some one else
or no one will write or even remember
my ending and beginning
May 2022 · 92
Jonathan Moya May 2022
The oceans recede,
its pylons exposed.
The great elephants rust
in the junkyard they fell
when Chukwa shifted.
Even his severed legs
can’t hold up the earth-sky.
The sea grass stiffens
to a verdant wave,
curl exposing the horizon.
The ivory house
built on the beach
(the one with the
bench in back
where children played
and the family picnicked,
the one with the
red flame corvette idling
on the cracked street)
disassembles in the winds.

The "world-elephants" are mythical animals which appear in Hindu cosmology. The Amarakosha (5th century) lists the names of eight male elephants bearing the world (along with eight unnamed female elephants).  They sit atop Chukwa, the Cosmic Tutrtle
May 2022 · 102
I See Only Silence
Jonathan Moya May 2022
it’s easy to know where the leaves were before they fell,
what her lips tasted after the caress of the loving hand,
what was in the crib  rusting in the forest of the night.

Only the twins know why they nod to each in the fog,
the thing  the hound bays for in the lake of stars,
what the alligators devoured in their circling frenzy—

the fattened beast
that exists bleeding
from the barn’s rafters.
May 2022 · 92
Jonathan Moya May 2022
If you accept the apple
you must accept the bite,
the lips that bit the flesh,
the legs that climbed the tree,
the eyes that looked and lusted
for what was in between and above
the white cleft rising in the speckled light,
all the crucifixes after and the rising flags since.
May 2022 · 110
Jonathan Moya May 2022
In Vatican City a cardinal walks
resolutely forward, his red train
flowing behind longer than a bride’s.

It’s silhouette passes by the open
windows of the atelier reflecting
crosses over the bodices of the
tailor’s latest scarlet creations.

Another black smoke day rises from
the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.

Blood shadows slowly abandon
St. Peter’s square for the trek home.

The sun’s golden trail will soon yield
to the purple plush of a Roman night.

its spectral color will caress the shoulders
of the woman with the straw hat and
black dress wanting to dance in the Trevi;

the black suit businessman ignoring
his even blacker shadow cast on
the terra cotta wall of his dextral side;

the young mother nursing her infant in
the safe T between ***** and clavicle,
praying to the priest behind the screen.
May 2022 · 100
Two Wheels
Jonathan Moya May 2022
Two circles, two triangles locked in against a rail
exist as geometries of mobility in immobility,
movement stuck in a silence never intended.

The front wheel swings in the direction of desire,
forward progress the only direction it knows.
Yet, it seems impossible that it stays upright.

Without a kick stand it falls easily into the dust.
Without a peddler executing a delicate balance
it wobbles aimlessly, an unguided wild thing.
Four wheelers, existing in a heaviness
that can’t be toppled over, cough gray
exhaust smoke on its fragile wheels.

It would fly if it could flap, if it had wings
but it can only roll and roll and roll,
its rider keeping enough speed for a breeze.

Only the rider ponders that they can’t fly.
the machine only knows its movement.
Color is their expression, not of itself

Pink wheels, a red crank and grips
adorned with blue streamers await
the daughter in elementary school.

Handlebars like a longhorn’s skull,
black wheels and a leather toe clip-
the boy who lives to pop wheelie’s.

Gold resting on solid yellow wheels,
an elongated seat in cheetah print-
a speedy courier dodging traffic.

Gray on a sensible, sturdy frame,
a black padded seat, a frame basket
in front- a matron grocery shopping.

All wait for the lock to unclick,
be wrapped under the seat, the
rider to turn it around and move.
May 2022 · 273
Night Beach Couplet
Jonathan Moya May 2022
When the color goes away for the day
the night beach revels in the shadows play.
May 2022 · 71
At Sunset
Jonathan Moya May 2022
Your death must mean just enough

not to curse the day you were born,
to stand by the water’s edge

and not want to swim with stones

until the first dark wave takes
me under in a fetal pose,

sinks me down in the last breath,

the clear waters almost your ghost
pushing me back, allowing

me to walk away.

Of course, I will push your toes, even
the missing small one, back into your shoes.

I will cast your coffin that was my

crib on the soft tide telling
you have nothing to be sad about.
May 2022 · 98
The End of the Journey
Jonathan Moya May 2022
My grief sails through joy
refusing to
tack the line of others-
straight, plain, flat and so so still-
the reason why I love it so.
No haven of pine and sand,
just mangrove roots
gnarled but knotted strong,
holding the beach against
the hurricane.
That it stands and so do I
is not a measure of what
I’ve known, or even the truth,
but all that I’ve lost.
May 2022 · 84
Quotidian Life
Jonathan Moya May 2022
A bicycle splashes
over a puddle
and its aura
reflects down
the streetlights
praying halos
on the umbrellas
of the pedestrians
that pass under.

Down the block
two stop signs
on opposite streets
both signal WALK,
letting the crisscross
of the quotidian begin.

This moment it’s
a blue umbrella
******* around
a red one.

Earlier a chihuahua
in a poncho sniffs
and wants to nip
at the English bulldog
wearing a Mac
in the pouring rain.
(Is it so strange.)

Hours later a woman
in a white dress
and black high heels
will struggle with
the designer handbag
slung on her left shoulder
and the Bergdof’s bag
grasped tight in her right.

The crossing mother
with the black stroller
sings a shushing lullaby,
hardly noticing
the little stumble.

Oh how,
The city releases
its spectacle of life
when it rains.
Jonathan Moya May 2022
If kites are nothing
but a cross on a sail
they can only rise.

Yet, the child running
with all his joy
in the brown field

on a cloudless day will
hold the string taut,
thinking it’s up to him

to keep the kite in the air
and never let its line
cross the path of birds.

Today, he will learn that
earth and sky do cross
and the wind is a shear.

The boy will cry for
the stranded kite
that heaven will adore.
May 2022 · 82
Getting It Right
Jonathan Moya May 2022
I try on my death suit regularly,
and even after my cancer surgery,
it’s still too long in the arms and legs..

This year I did manage to find a
comfy pair of shoes in a size 9 1/2
that don’t make my toes numb.

in a few years I will come into a
nice inheritance and will be able to
afford a tailor that will get it right.
May 2022 · 67
Living With the Fog
Jonathan Moya May 2022
The fog
covers the bridge
all around.
the day blurs night.
ships prowl slow
and uneasy lines.
driving or walking
will remember
the cry
of the sky,
the sobs of
those tiny sirens
warning away,
warning away,
those who
come too close
to touching them
in this blindness-
after the light
has returned
their souls
have safely
reached the
other side.
Apr 2022 · 91
The Lone-some Cowboy
Jonathan Moya Apr 2022
His horse whinny’s while waiting outside
the church with the blue cross and tin roof.

The loyal herding dog panting on the corner,
listens to the lulling cows in the pasture,
heels for the hand signal to start the gather.

In the center of the town square,
a marble angel atop a high stone column,
inches below a cross of electrical lines,
offers benediction for the gathered congregants.

Beyond, gray rumbles over  stretches of white clouds.
The ranch house below is abuzz with the sounds of pans
hitting a wood burning stove, the chant of prepping cuisine
and trail cooks praying loud long remembered recipes.
In the lake, just beyond, a black figure paddles a row boat.

The blue door of the church swings open and  
a congregant passes through holding a purse full of oats,
an offering for the horse to follow closely behind.
Two sharp finger snaps and the dog falls in beside.
The cows herd against the pasture’s barbed wire fence.

A pine coffin emerges with a white  cowboy hat on its lid.    
The hat’s old dusty brown band has been replaced with a  
synthetic new one, steam cleaned and pressed for today.
The lulling, whinnying, barking all the giddy-ups commence.  
The first drop falls from the sky, the start of a thousand tears. The last drive of so many last drives has finally begun.
Jonathan Moya Apr 2022
Lallo assembles the town in his head
all in shades of green, white and gray—
grass, walks and streets  scarring  stories
on the old sacred hills
of high steel huts
with Bianco Carrara walls and long halls
filled with plains of  baize tables, silver machines
and nightmares of blue cavalry.

Lallo is a Native American Kiowa name meaning “little boy.”

Bianco Carrara is considered, both in Italy and abroad, the Italian marble par excellence. This whiteish-gray stone is extracted from the Apuan Alps in Carrara where there are the most known millenary tradition quarries in the world.

Baize— a coarse, typically green woolen material resembling felt, used for covering billiard and card and gaming tables.

Blue Calvary refers to the color of the uniforms of the  U.S. army soldiers from 1830-1890. Many Indian massacres and force relocations to reservations were carried out by these blue U.S. Army regiments
Apr 2022 · 76
We Need to Look Longer
Jonathan Moya Apr 2022
The eye feels the light,
the lens knows the truth:

The children silent
under a blue tarp
amongst the rubble—

their little backpacks
still on their backs
offering the hope they
still might stand up

then, the beat—
and the realization
that will never happen.

You want
to look away
yet you can’t.

You must
look closer.

You must
look for longer.

Again and again you
must be the essential,
indisputable witness

to things no human
being wishes to see—

The line of strollers
left at Przemyśl station by
fleeing mothers carrying
their infants in their arms,

a less brutal
more hopeful image
connecting in solidarity

mothers divided  
by geography
and circumstance.

And yet, there
is the uncovered
mother and child

who died face up
in the square amidst
the brightest sun,

the ****** pregnant
mother being evacuated
on a stretcher

who stop you
in first gaze
and mid-breath,

who demand
you to act, demand
you to respond,

when you see the mass
graves of Mariupol

and know you can
only think of
those of Babi Yar.
Apr 2022 · 69
The Lesson of Our Puddles
Jonathan Moya Apr 2022
Oceans are formed from
the dropping of our tears.
and in it we must all drown,
knowing only the cold
and the slow drifting
away of our flesh.

We watch our fathers  
live extraordinary lives
but die ordinary deaths.

It sinks our hearts down
in the gush of a thousand
memories past and
memories to be named,

into expectations
of what was and
was suppose to be,
all the “if onlys…”
of our sadness

until we hate him for it,
creating new deserts
with every gasp
until we are alone
and stranded
on our own oasis—

with our tears streaming
down our faces and
in puddles at our feet,
shouting in pretense
that our feet are bone dry,
warm and comfortable—

kicking and dancing in
that holiest of puddles
until each droplet
raises off the ground
and touches our skin,
moves across our bodies—
and we are oh so so
grateful for its touch

and the life lesson that
father was teaching
us how to die all along.
Apr 2022 · 205
Celestial Fission
Jonathan Moya Apr 2022
the hardest thing to hold on to,
forms our guardian  angels,
the ones that sway us
to our favorite tree,
settling each branch
in a sugary light.

We scamper
towards it,  all the dust
of sun and star reflecting
golden in our faces,
adorned in the
red and white regal robes
of our younger self.

God particles
surround us,
their soft collisions
cooling on our skin,
filling us with dreams
of things we may
never know again.

For now,
we fly on our
given golden wings
into our angel’s sway,
for they called us little birds
and we believe their very word.

We soared
with them in their heaven,
pausing only briefly
on a branch of sky
to sit and cuddle together,
whispering how they
value us in our ears,
their gift to us held tight.

the farm shed
our parents call us
and we settle on
the vernal, yellow
nimbus of earth for
one last celestial dance—

and knowing the empty pair
of red and white dance shoes
they gifted us, that are sitting
on the floor like a callus,  
will someday be given a
reason to move once more.
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
Soon, all I know will die,
                be buried or burnt
                in the bonfire,
        lost to senses and thought,
                      become un-

            I will fall to my knees
            and become a turtle
                carrying my home
                    on my back.

                    If I cry out,
              who will hear me?  
            Who will
                    when everything
                          is gone?
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
After, the awe returns with less shock.
A father lives in a quiet unannounced moment.
At his celebration of life
service all the children wear black leather.
They refuse to die, be strangers,
vow to know their names, remember their world.
The sound of traffic on the way back home leads them
to a smelly bar open this cold night.
The sirens fade pass for the party inside.
The balcony holds and holds.
Whatever war there is
it will not arrive this night.
They will likely never forget
all this dancing through vintage songs,
dancing again and again.
—And there it is. There it is—
Everything they’ve given up
to stay here and find more.
Mar 2022 · 62
Our Last Suppers
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
They pass the plate between them

mother to daughter, father to son,
a communion stretching to forever

until the plates are full
and father and son retire to
the living room to watch the game.

The mother advises on the adornment’s
of the daughter, the father pats the son
for his stratagems of the future.

They have always been this way and the
singing cold coming from the window

only makes them closer to one another,
that thing they do to get through
this meal and the next and life.

How many solitary meals they had
together they can’t remember.

They know not what they have
given up, if they gave up anything,

only that the meal was solid and filling.
Mar 2022 · 53
Sixty Degrees and Clear
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
Sixty degrees and clear.
She dies -morning hospice shift
while I’m getting ready
to visit her.
Waxen in her white bed,
arms bruised and quiet now,
mouth wide in a gasp
as if in scream, as if saying
ah, no!  Both eyes closed,
turned down for my visit,
denied all further light,
sky or even ceiling.
I touch her hand. It is
cold.  It’s only been
two hours. At the threshold
I see the elevator.
I’m not ready
to drop down that tunnel.
I go back and kiss her forehead.  
Outside, the clear light types her life.
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
I treat the future as past,
a bright yellow house I inhabited,
filled with broken furniture
needing repair, replacement, to be
quickly put to the match or just all thrown out.
There is a kitchen with pots and pans
everywhere and much flour dusting everything—
and bread, bread, bread, so so so much bread.  
Maybe I will keep that aqua sofa with
the broken frame and pop-out spring
or that oil portrait of my dead father
with the eye gouge that makes it look that his
ghost is still watching over me.
My mother (God rest her soul) was
my door and she took the door with her.

I wish I could claw out
a space for her in the
partial darkness beyond
but she  refuses
to move from her space in my
soul’s basement in a way I
can not hammer through at all.
Only the heartbeat and
breath we clearly share moves forward.
She was a great dancer
but I could never learn the right steps.
Oh mother, mother dance for me again,
in the distant, distant horizon.
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
The tongue
all the death
     it has tasted.
It teaches us the
     name and memory
of things.
     The aquae of
the  womb’s ocean
     as it dries in the
first gasp of air.
     The vitae  
coughing out  
     so the lungs
can start its
     invisible cycles
of dying
     and renewing.
The taunt
     of the nose  
denying forever  
     the tongue’s
right to taste
     the light of light,
     the invisible
for itself,
     the visible
for the eyes
     and the mortal
for the body’s
     flapping corpus.
The sal of flesh
     as it tastes the  
lechum of breast.
     The tongue knows
the Unami of vowels
     before the first words
spoken and heard.
     The sweetness of
the first thought
     before it dries in the
sourness of memory.
     That the first honeyed  
almond greeting is refined  
     from bitter goodbyes.
That leaving home
     tastes like oranges.
That love tastes like chocolate
     and the newborn like rice.
The tongue knows
     from its time with the ocean
that the smell of death
      usurps the silence
of a mother’s caress,
     the waves of all her
sobs and tears
     until the sweet salt
is the last everything
     it only always knew.
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
Soon, all I know will die,
                be buried or burnt
                in the bonfire,
        lost to senses and thought,
                      become un-

            I will fall to my knees
             and become a turtle
                carrying my home
                     on my back.

                    If I cry out,
              who will hear me?  
             Who will
                     when everything
                           is gone?
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
I listen to his wheeze
and watch the machine ascend
for a full breathe then
fall back down again
and know I must trek
to the mountain once again.

Like my mother, heedless of  
self and for my  sake,  
will he snap twig after        
twig to point my safe return?

She died clutching a small cross,
a loblolly branch,
her bones resting on
soil, open to the sky and
animals delight
like her ancestors.

She was a feather.
He is a boulder.  
I can’t lift him on my back.
He will roll down the mountain.
I can only drag him
and watch the pebbles and dirt
cascade down to their beginnings.
Pull him to last breath.  

I hear a twig snap
and his hand falls to his side.
I release him to the dirt
and the mountain cradles him
as I stumble home.

“I will pick you up after
chemo,” my wife says
the next day, as I watch her  
drive down the mountain
road, listening to
branches snapping in the fog.
Jonathan Moya Mar 2022
Bury  them with their Motanka,
doll tight in their hands.

Dress them in that  yellow
fleece wanted and put back on the shelf,

two wreaths of  roses and gerberas
adjacent their crypt,

filled with their birth smells,
the sandalwood,  jasmine of the crib,

a towel and a bowl of water
near to wipe their tears.

Flood the nave lightly  dark
so they may chase the path of birds.

Recite the names they gave
the fowl, flowers, everything.

Only you must remain ignorant
of the sun and the dark.

Only you would pray to re-turn
amniotic time to have them again,

nine months to split the seeding moment,
to be be flesh renewed, a new word within you.

Only you will thirst to
return drop by by red drop

the blood spilled from them
to the wanting womb.

Only you will drag their sled
from church to cemetery.

You will feast with others
on the third, ninth, the fortieth

day of their passing, feast again
on the sixth month and the annum,

for each one day past Easter
for another forty Provodies.

Notes on the Ukrainian funeral rites and rituals mentioned in the poem:

On the days of Ukrainian funerals, a bowl of drinking water and a towel are left for the dead as a spiritual offering. This is done because it is believed that the soul of the deceased drinks the water and uses the towel in order to wash away the tears along the way.

Moreover, Ukrainians abstain from drinking water in the presence of the body of the deceased.

Another Ukrainian traditions is to use a sled to move the body of the deceased from the funeral service to the burial site.

They have a feasting ritual in which members of the community join to feast on the third, ninth and fortieth days after a death has occurred. These feasts are also repeated on the six month and one year anniversaries of the death of a person. Ukrainians also commemorate the lives of their ancestors on the days following Easter. It is believe that this puts the spirits of their ancestors at ease so they can continue to rest in peace. This Ukrainian remembrance festivity is referred to as “Provody”.

The mainly faceless Motanka dolls can be found in every region of the Ukraine.  They are a symbol of women’s wisdom and family bounds.  In Orthodox Catholic regions of the Ukraine the face of a Motanka is made of a cross— a symbol of not only their faith but also sun and light, not only a good luck charm but also a symbol of well-being.
Jonathan Moya May 2021
The Holy Ghost is freely
pinned as sin is from the Devil
amongst  the broken back pews of a somnambulant congregation
dreaming of the post church *** luck buffet.

Release it to the wild,
it flies to heaven,
anointing a stained-glass angel peeled
from the wall as second.

The angel says,
”You must wrestle me,”
I dream of catching the uncatchable,
holding that one untouchable thing.

The angel breaks its shoulder to
be free
of my material hunger
to devour the wrong blood, flesh— to the bone

It ascends unsatisfied
as an altared Christ
cursing the church to contain his blessings in a stone idol and
those who all pray open-eyed.
May 2021 · 120
A Mother’s Bread
Jonathan Moya May 2021
All life mother kneaded him
from her ma’s-g’ma’s  pain and joy,
from the bodies who all knew her
into the one  she knew well,
collected from all the raw bits
lost, found, saved from breads baked-unbaked,
while the yeast swelled her stomach  
and pocked her skin. She said, “Eat, child,”
and he fed ‘till her flesh broke.  

In the dark oven she lifted him,
chest filled with his sweet-sour breath,
his body spread out in the cool
table light of day, fingers uncurled
in the dun brioche of her lap,
her hand cradling his in this new time
far from the mute silence of his
once buttered existence, trying
to suckle on a tongue empty  world
knowing only his Kaddish.
Jonathan Moya May 2021
Is it so terrible to mourn a mother on  Mother’s Day,
to cry for the ones that shut the door and never returned,
those never equipped to nurture a newborn from birth to death,
the ones who desperately wanted to be mothers but couldn’t be,
those who lost a child or never wanted to be mothers but are—
should this be a day for the successes and joys and not the tragedies,
for just the good mothers and not the bad ones?

Both get their fare share of good and bad poetry,
memories full of exultations and recriminations,
letters that get sent across the miles and get burned.
It’s by luck that each child gets a lifelong angel or Devil.

Just s ay their name  because they gave you life,
whether it be a shout or a whisper
depends on  the weight  of your joy and pain.
May 2021 · 92
Pain Knows the Wolf
Jonathan Moya May 2021
I should have broken my back by now
with my lupine spine,
feet screaming as if in a wolf trap.
My outrage prowls the low valley
searching the arid land for water
to slack the thirst,
the howl inside.
Once there was real silence
but no answer.
Now, rage is my lone truth.
The lamb has been eaten.
Nothing stays in my broken jaw.
What is caught just slips away.
The times are always lean
for those who howl alone.
Jonathan Moya May 2021
Brother, I await you outside the window
amongst the night traffic zoom and scent of pine,

story sitting on the throat’s knife edge,
the truth unable to roll out from blood fear.

Mother, I feel your harsh breath outside my soul.
Father, your praise is hidden in the hot stones.

Brother, the moon slices you,
tripling fear across the unforgettable,

a memory haunting a thousand of my nights.
How can I love the ghosts of those beings I hate

or hate the shadows of things I truly love in light?
Brother, I know what I can only imagine.

In the night, I know your hand is there, all in mine.
I imagine the cold breath of stones.
Apr 2021 · 96
Super Nova
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
Super Nova

I destroy the gold house
inside my soul—

the nova of light on
gold archway, gold mantle,
gold walls.  The last bits of

real places that once shined.
l thought, forever

in the aura of sun-
shine on once
gold rooftop, gold windows,

gold doors. Look in,
search and see, find: black gold

steeped in the dark
burned down to ash of
gold wood, gold grass

the once gold streets, gold hills
all around my dead sun.

This dead sun will never rise, rise
and shine its light
to my gold soul.
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
It appears  just weeks after the last tear,
my mother’s sky blue dress on her life ghost:
same walk, dove shape, soft voice, brown hair cut short-
at least from behind, in the same love light
that moved from donation bin, rack, to her
in the way that the poor are ****** to wear  
the dead’s clothes, hand me downs echoes worn thin
enough to be bleach clouds or ghosts of ghosts,
the seams just barely holding together,
hem taken up from low earth to sky,
the orphan leftovers recut and sewn
to match the little girl holding her hand
tight enough to be a matching heaven,
memory of a bright and special life.
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
When I roam the real forest
grumpy apple trees spit their spoiled rotten children on
my shoulders knowing I will collect them
and mash their cores into cider.

Their leaves refuse to form shadows nor shade me, letting
the sun scorch my monk’s crown deep cardinal red.

The weeping willows shed snickers not tears.

The oaks refuse their goodness  
and discernment, all their wisdom.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out “***** coming!”

Yet, I shade the thing I love
even as they shout out, “Go away, away.
Go home. Go home now.”

Still, my little Pomchi girl knowing forest from the trees
bows down to ***, bends backwards to ****
in full glory of all the angry, angry leaves.  

The Mary Oliver poem mimicked here can be read at:
Apr 2021 · 175
To Eat a Peach
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
As I exit
the world of green dinosaurs
fused from abandoned rusty automobiles      
and steaming in  the sun,
a child offered me a giant peach
harvested from a Palisade tree
grown in the valley’s katabatic winds.
It tasted of harsh-sweet stolen pleasures,
lust and greed and love and dried fruit,
full of Ute tears and diverted waters,
memories between prayers and laments  
buried deep, sprouting new
on rolling plains laced with spice
breezes and Buffalo.

It had evolved flesh pregnant with two hemispheres  
to be split midway
by thumbs meant to be coated with pulp
juice pooling to palm lifelines.

I knew it fed me its sweetness
in cupped hands, not a gift
but a sacrifice to be sniffed
and tasted like an old vintage
barreled decades for a loving tongue.

Its red blush collapsed into
a  tawny mass that matched the day’s light,
remaining fuzzy flesh a gold skull—
the ancient colors full of guilt and redemption
and red shame and love and twilight,
a thing existing slightly
out of season, fully sweet
yet almost taboo, almost cursed,
the lustful last bite of life.

I bought a half dozen more peaches from the parent
standing slightly just behind the child
busy cradling them into a paper craft bag
rolling them into darkness far from light
and the frozen extinction crushed
by the din of overpass traffic from above.

I noticed the sun fade from the earth,
a scorned lover removing her gaze,
until there exists a tattoo
memory of love and ripening peaches.

I took the small change
aware that the peaches would rot to
mold, uneaten, unwanted, the pit unplanted.


A katabatic wind  is a drainage wind, a wind that carries high-density air from a higher elevation down a ***** under the force of gravity.
Apr 2021 · 272
Always Previously Owned
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
After Adam died Eve
designed a house of wooden ribs.
She created it to never burn down.
It was full of happy walls and
bright colors that never faded.
(The next owner painted them gray.)
The rainbow colors would daub off
on every guest’s fingerprint,
an intended souvenir.
Nautilus shells placed near all windows
breathed the gentlest light everywhere
A stone pyramid staircase
snaked up to the second floor.
Doves could be heard cooing
peacefully from above.
There was a room with a writing desk that
everyone thought was a guest bedroom
but was really her office.
Abel’s name was carved
into all the door mantles.
On Sundays, after church, she invited
the children to slide through all the
crannies they could find
Outside, oaks and weeping willows
formed the boundary line.
When she died
they grew closer
to the house,
their limbs outstretched
as if in mourning.
When the government cataloged the house,
forgetting that she was a businesswoman,
they noted it officially as Adam’s property.
The next homeowner remodeled it poorly and
it burned down two days after they moved in.
Apr 2021 · 174
Homeric Simile
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
As when his son, a pensive animal lover,
on his first hunt,
had to face the doe in his scope,
his first **** lined up for the taking,
breath held firmly before trigger plunge,
the forest circling, fear trembling his lips,
doe moving from view, gaze,
his father behind, a looming granite mountain
crushing him
like an avalanche of scold that he could not,
despite his determination,
could really climb from,
his finger unwilling to pull the trigger,
even with his father
tugging his arm in death’s directions
as the miss hit sap and freed doe
from their sight.

so facing his death
the father gripped the old bedsheets,
trigger fingers cocked
and son did not dare
slap his hands
Apr 2021 · 299
The Projection Room
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
If lucky I will die in a room
of non-hospital green, on plump pillows,
good linens, with good family and good friends,
the ghosts of loves, the odorama
of nitrate seas, forests or mountains on
Room where well-cast dreams lived and died.

Will my death be the end of a long love,
mystery, tragedy or comedy,
flashback to life or final nightmare?

Will your face be the  last frame or just
the quieter, dustier bed
out there in the sun— the rain?
Apr 2021 · 255
The Dig
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
Blow the dust of history off our bones.
In the excavated ribs of ancient sailing ships
find the burial chambers of kings.

Blow the dust of history off our bones.
In the dig just below them,  but just over
the rubble of the blitz are the
cracks in the golden cathedral’s dome.

Blow the dust of history off our bones.
Hear the cough of the newborn that
ends unknown years later to the last ahem.

Blow the dust off history off our bones.
In the oil that bubbles up see the
trilobites, dinosaurs layered in the sludge.

Blow the dust of history of our bones.
Place the femur of all  misery neatly
on the museum shelf for all to see.
Apr 2021 · 153
For My Unknown Anniversary
Jonathan Moya Apr 2021
Every year I knowingly cross the unknown
date that will complete my tombstone,
the day last fires will turn  ice and
my deafness will make the silence
my true and final friend- and I will cradle
the earth that cuddles my mother.

Maybe I will share that anniversary
with her or some dear friend but
undoubtedly with other millions passed.
The shadows know the date but are quiet
and are shameless in keeping it private.
Today there are poems to write and
quiet and noisy, loud and silent times to
live until the last song of my nightingale.
Mar 2021 · 83
The Forensic Cleaner
Jonathan Moya Mar 2021
they took the body out
but the blood/bloodstain
stayed there.

the investigation begins.
that’s the police’s job.

but after the death
the cleaner cleans.

he cleans up blood,
pieces of bone,
maggots, flies
everything that
a corpse/body
leaves behind.
the smell
of decomposition/death  
will be gone
by the time
he finishes his work.

he has a very close
relationship to blood.
it’s something
that he respects.
he always tries
to keep in mind
that these remains
left on the floor,
this blood/bloodstain
belonged to someone.

what were they like
doesn’t interest him.
who were they
he’ll never really know.
he just owes them respect.

(every time he leaves
the atmosphere changes.
it changes
because nothing
them anymore
that there,
in that place,
lost their life.

things will change
and the way they see
these objects
is sure to change as well.

of course they
still have that loss,
that pain,
but the way
they are
going to face it
is different.

his work is done
and theirs begins.)

he has a recurring dream
about his work.
he is driving at night.
the street is dark.
there are people
but he can’t see their faces.
he doesn’t know if
they are saying

it is something
he would like to know
but he doesn’t have
enough time.
he thinks
that these
could be people
who have died.

at the end of his dream
he’s in the sea.
he’s trying
to get
to the surface,
but never
gets there.

it’s a cold,
he tries to move.
he tries to struggle.

he wakes up.
instead of being uneasy
he feels happy.
all around
is the shadows
of tombstones
leaving so many stains
on the grass
so much work
for him to do.
Jonathan Moya Mar 2021
“I am but mad North North west; when the wind is Southerly, I know a hawk, from a hand saw.”
(Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)

Only God sees and knows dove from spoon,
can feign the smoothness of heaven,
let the mind see hawk and handsaw
open in the wide shed behind the house,
not the falconer’s falling glove
and the hand severed from the bird’s wings.  

For thoughts are to the manner born
and God knows the risk of our reach.
He feeds both dove and hawk
while the saw is being oiled.  
The cut finger howls His name
and cannot fly or make wings.

Line 7 references:
Hamlet, Act 1, scene 4: "But to my mind, though I am native here / And to the manner born, it is a custom / More honour'd in the breach than the observance."
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