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Dec 2017 · 449
delirious with wild poppies
J Arturo Dec 2017
we kissed again below the ski basin.
above everything else.
moving my head, side to side
to catch shimmering glimpses of the city lights
through the aspens at our feet.

I don't know what this is.
how hard you held on, how honestly you cried
with deep breaths and little motions, tired and slow.
and when you got home
shouldered your coat and stepped out into the snow.

and I am sorry it should be like this.
that my face had been dried by the desert november, driving
through dead air at
impossible speeds.

          you are my little sip, for parched lips.

my little breath of fresh air my little hint of
light through thick trees
my little only one night under warm sheets and then
driving south again, into the wind
until january, until summer, until the water runs in the canyons
and every fragile flower fights for rain

(and they never wonder
how deep now to drink.)
Oct 11, 2014
J Arturo Dec 2017
A little bird tried to fly through the screen door and I thought, 'if only there were more air up here'.

The view from the second story deck encompassed miles of low scrub hills, piñon, and was daily growing less hazy as the fires subsided. The little bird was dead. Was not even twitching or rolling or whatever idiot birds do to fight or hold onto life. Or maybe it was unconscious. If it was a head impact, it could just be out cold. I could take it in for a bit, see if it revives. But the brains of birds are very small... maybe not large enough to switch out of consciousness without damaging the whole system. It could wake up brain damaged: amnesic, whistling gibberish, unable to collaborate or co-worm-locate or sit on eggs or whatever other higher functions birds perform. Angry, all the time. Likely a burden and a danger to the community. Condemned to either death or a life of lonely suffering. I'd rather not be culpable for that.

Prospective buyers are arriving at four, the realtor as well, for a tour, so I grabbed a broom and swept the quiet body into the shaggy juniper that surrounded the house. Swept up with maple leaves that had settled on the porch since this time yesterday, together a mass of decomposing matter, under the railing and into the dark.

I'd spent a lot of time alone in the house on Grand. Watched nature slowly creep through the iron fence and into the faux-pond, up under the patio bricks, purple flowered and needley plants growing taller and more hostile daily. Increasing numbers of little brown birds mistaking the reflected sunset in the plate glass doors for real sky.

"If only there were more air up here." A little joke I repeat out loud while sweeping broken bodies into shrubs. The thickest places, where they wouldn’t be seen when (if) someone ever dropped by to view the house.

I don't live here, the house is soon to be foreclosed. But a friend of mine knew I needed a place to stay and offered this, his third home, empty of everything except a coffee maker, some landscaping tools, a few boxes that had yet to be moved. I have a twin sized mattress in what must have been a child's room: a strip of Denver Broncos wallpaper runs the circumference, every other surface painted complimentary blue.

The couple arrived at five. She wears a salmon coloured shawl over a white blouse. They’re performing the theatric act of young couples in love (with the idea of a larger house): she ecstatic over the seven jets in the master Jacuzzi tub, he hesitant about the people-paths in the wall-to-wall-carpet, the everpresent pastels we know were once in vogue but will take weeks and at least two layers of base to fully eradicate. It’s the realtor’s job to showcase the place but I often stand outside the plate glass windows of the living room, keeping an eye. Playing the role of groundskeeper because hitchhiker is so much less glorious.

So far it’s been the same. Always she with a genuine smile that will be gone forty minutes after she’s left the driveway. He, always in t-shirt and “trying to be casual” jacket calculating the square footage of each room, the viability of the fireplace. Opening cabinets, but not concerned with storage space. He wants to see if the brass hinges really have brass pins. Is it wood, linoleum? Look closely at his eyes and watch them dance across a virtual blackboard, adding up the gallons of primer and paint needed to cover up the colour mistakes of a before-his-decade.


You can almost watch his eyes dart across the blackboard. A house is a house but the home must be shredded, burned, before making it yours.

But they all do this. A dozen or so now, this summer. And I spend a lot of time alone. Injecting my thoughts into people who think they know what they need next, before getting in a small car and checking out a properly closer to town. Making little jokes to myself as I sweep the porch. The isolation even maybe altering small parts of my self. The social parts, perhaps. I feel good, most days, but find myself repeating the same phrases: “****. Shower. Shave”, “If only there were more air up here.”, “I could learn to love a leopard”, even recently a little Old Testament, which like a ******* I’ve been taking to bed with increasing frequency and a growing selfish guilt, repeating,

“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.”

They won’t be back, but for the first time now there’s a deer in the yard. Meaning there must be a hole in the fence. A doe, and fawn too, and I can sit and stare with my broom in hand because my job is to sweep the deck. Dead birds and maybe rats, leaves of course, but with all the water the bank is wasting on this waste of a lawn, come deer: come all ye deer, come and eat. Maybe you will even eat the frighteningly thistly things. Regardless, in exchange for this room I was given a broom and deer are far too large to sweep.

When my student visa expired in Canada I left the country with no identification, five Canadian dollars, a five litre backpack mostly occupied by a camera, and in my mind some distillation of the romanticism from On The Road that I’d managed to power-read in a Heathrow bookstore four years before (lacking the pounds to actually purchase the book). I crossed the border via ferry, and entered the country without identification. I thought this was impossible but it turns out that when you have no time but your whole future ahead of you, and nowhere to get to anyway, insisting “I am a U.S. citizen and you need to let me into this country” does in fact work, if you repeat it enough, and are willing to wait. In my case border patrol even gave me a twenty note and a pat on the back before sending me on my way.

How I ended up sitting on the floor watching birds die, backlit by a desert sunset, in the mountains of New Mexico, is a long story, and to be honest the details have largely escaped me. I do remember I was reading Hemingway. “The Innocents Abroad”, and trying to find myself in any character I could lay my hand on. The word “Innocent” in the title, I suppose, far moreso any actual character, struck the most.

It’s the middle of The Great Recession. Or The Great Depression. The Great Compression. I can’t remember any longer which economic period this particular episode occupied (why can’t they name them more sensibly, like hurricanes?) Call it, then, The Great Introspection, as I narrated myself through the dozen rooms of a million-dollar house: the material self still alive and thriving inside in a self-congratulatory spiral over the personal ROI that left Canada on five dollars and put me, rent free, in a home worth that multiplied 200,000 times. The home where I first had my own key. The home where I learned to drink a glass of water before my morning coffee.

(Five years and $98,000 in college expenses later that was, easily, the best advice I’ve ever received.)

Eventually the phone was disconnected, the water, the power. The jacuzzi, though dry, was still a good place to lie and read. And the piñon and snakes, cacti and juniper, then inklings of pine trees came in steadily. When you would look at them they would freeze. But every morning something new was growing, some new pink flower popped up promisingly to crack the mortar in front of the door. Sweetly at first, then growing thorns, and I walking the perimeters saying “if only there were more air out here”, saying, “can not feel her anymore”, as if the decadent madness of the lawn could be silenced by speaking out loud. Trying to walk the edge of the fence, increasingly losing it in the encroaching bush, then resigning myself to the living room, the **** carpet flattening into a forest path while I impressed miles into that offensive floor.

words. seeds. thistles. marvin morales.

Sleeping on that filthy mattress, the Denver Broncos looking down, still optimistic about their upcoming trophy, or cup. Whatever it was that a bunch of cartoon horses could win. But the sweeping gave me solace, even though the growing thistles made the bricks uneven and caught in the bristles of the broom, leaving little shards of transplanted pink flowers emedded in the yellow polyethylene. I loathed them, but looking back I can see I played straight into their plan. Transplanting little seeds to new weak places in the cement, where they could grow tall again and **** up what little good was left of the land. Bring deer to eat them. Bring little idiot birds to pick the seeds out of the faeces, recycling with pure intent, and flying off into the bright light of sunset. Then crashing broken to the floor.

And like the lawn, like the porch, like what happens when you read Twain, something in me changed. “If only there were more air”, yes, but there is never enough air. Piling up among the deer, among the doe, among my now all-consuming pacing and talking to ghosts who don’t live here anymore, among the many birds who ate their worms and went on to hatch a dozen more, flew into a plate glass sunset, and were ignored.
Dec 2017 · 818
The Test Path, pt. 2
J Arturo Dec 2017
I am walking on this small and winding path, through a field. We've decided that it's not an important field, it grows nothing. Animals may have eaten here, once, but they aren't right now. And the path seems well travelled. I'm taken back to something, in science class-- maybe. About letting the earth lie fallow, for a season? I'm trying to say that thoughts of tresspassing were furthest from our minds.

Sarah is carying her heavy bag on her back. I've offered to carry it, but Sarah is one of those people who will recognize their own mistakes and deal with them. I am feeling prudent for having brought only my small brown messenger bag. The sun is just setting, we've been walking for most of the day. We are not nature people. There was a lot of time spent in the city, some spent navigating the train network-- the crazy system of connections and missed schedules. Local and express trains, too. I am not one to ever complain. Sarah is content to swim with the current, and I admire her for this.

She asks me, "Do you think we're still going north?"

We are supposed to be somewhere. I would not rather be anywhere than here.

"I am not sure." I say. "I am having a hard time being worried about it."

"Okay.", she says.

The tall plants with purple bells on top are falling apart as we brush past them. It is maybe eight o'clock, but it is summer, and the world smells warm and eager to have us in it. If earth is a mother, she is reading us a bedtime story. I am very sore, conscious of my decision to wear sandals this morning. Sarah is impossible to read, but paint her content. Had a sheep or farmer come up and asked me, I would have said I were falling in love.

Because of this, I want to say something, one of those things that will mean a lot more because it is between the two of us. I am thinking, "There are a lot of stars.", but instead, I say, "Have you wondered why they call it the Test Path?"

"I hadn't really thought much on it. I suppose it could be for a lot of reasons. Or maybe just coincidence? I don't know.", she says.

"I am thinking that it has something to do with cartography.", I say. "Maybe when they were first deciding how the first maps would be put together, they call came out here and mapped this path. Oh! And the Test Creek!"

"What does that have to do with anything?", she asks.

"Well when they had completed it, and all of the backs had been patted, etc, etc, and they'd completed the map of the surrounding area too, perhaps they thought: what will we call that first path and creek? And maybe one of them said, 'It was our first test. Let us just leave it as Test Path and Test Creek'. And so they all exclaimed what a Jolly-Good-Time it was, and went off to do whatever they did in those days, and it's been that way ever since."

"I don't really know what to tell you. I guess it's possible. I wasn't there.", she said.

I am trying to explain myself to the stars, but it's hard to pick just one and stay focused on it. Sarah has light skin. She fits in well amongst the thatched houses and rain. I am darker, and I suspect that people notice it. Hostility has been bred away for generations, here, but I can still feel eyes on me; the outsider. I want to fight these people, each of them, with my fists. I would love the chance to prove myself to them, and be taken into the tribe. Dear watchful ones: I can learn your language, your customs. I am young! Vibrant! Adaptable! But they will hear none of it. Sarah would, I think, fight them too, but she has nothing to prove to them. My attempts to read her leave me thinking she is longing to do something different with herself. She doesn't know what that is. If she did, she might not be here with me. I am both hopeful for her, and wishing she'll fail.

There is supposed to be a monestary around here. We are walking to the left of a deep forest, the creek lies between us. The occasional overturned tree would make a good bridge, but it is dark at this point, and we've decided that the monks would prefer to be left alone. Everything is colorless, but still full of life. At night, in the winter, in the city were we both used to live, everything died. We would sometimes walk along the short paths that lined the escarpment, and I would keep my knife in my hand. I think Sarah understood that it is a dangerous thing to be alive among the dead and dying; one must be careful. She never said anything about it, but Sarah is a poet on occasion, and so I assume she understands most everything. But here, there was noise, life. We come across a patch of ground riddled with holes the size of Coke cans. Deep holes.

"Do you ever wonder what they might be up to down there?", I say.

"I've thought about it, some,", she says, "but I imagine if they did anything really spectacular, we'd have heard about it."

"Did you see that special they aired on one of the science channels? They took some ant colony... in Africa. A certain type of ants. And they flooded the whole underground complex with this watery type of cement--"

"What about the ants? *******."

"Well they all died, I guess. But it's for the sake of science. Anyway. They flooded the whole complex with cement, and it took like... six months to dry. But when it did, they excavated around the whole thing."

"And what was it like?", she says.

"Amazing. I don't remember the statistic. Something like, 'The ants had moved four tons of earth, the eqivalent on a human scale of--' or other. But the point was that these little tiny bugs made this system, hundreds of feet wide and dozens of feet deep. All hidden under a pile of dirt! It was unbelievable!"

"That is pretty cool.", she says.

"Then imagine if these creatures were doing the same thing-- on the same scale. Kilometers of tunnels! Cisterns and cemetaries and maybe even churches, tiny factories, thermonuclear generation stations! All under this field!"

"I think that you give them too much credit. But I don't know. You could be right. Though I think if I were one of those things, I'd be happy just being one of those things, and not get caught up in industrialization and all of that."

And I ask, "Are you happy being one of whatever-you-are?"

We talk like this, for an hour or so. Nothing is really said, but I am secretly hoping that the world is listening to us. There must be sheep here, somewhere, and they will go home and tell their little sheep children about us. I also think about the nature of sound waves. That everything we say is receeding away from us, infinitely, and somewhere out there our words are being rendered into an alien language for a baby's bedtime story. I'm wondering why the greatest thing I hope for in life is to be the words that put someone to sleep.

We stop. It is very late now. The house I'd hoped to get to has not appeared. Though if we ended up going south instead of north, we've only added another day onto our trip. I'm not really concerned though, which is unusual for me. It is warm out, the bugs are singing lullibies. It is dark enough to be private, yet not so dark as to be frightening. We walk off the path, and sit down in the cavity left by the massive root structure of an old-man of a fallen tree. Sarah pulls out her sleeping bag, and I lie down in the grass nearby, and stare up. It is itchy, but I'm oddly not bothered. Not bothered anymore by much. I don't plan to sleep, not for a while. I want to hear Sarah sleeping. I've decided that I want my thoughts to become a bedtime story to her, and I begin to tell them to her, in no real order.

I wanted my words to be a christmas present, boxed and beautiful. Or a chocolate bar. Or something. They come out jambled, as I fall in and out of meter, gesturing at the sky and making grand generalizations. I tell her about my childhood on the farm. About the way my uncle, reaching for a rope in the hay loft, fell and broke his neck three summers back. It was the first time I'd seen a dead body. I tell her about moving to the city. The brick and stone, and my initial fascination at the way things could always be in motion. After a time, she comes to lie next to me, wordlessly, and places her head on my chest.

I am no more now than I have ever been, but I am tied off at the end. I am not in danger of fraying. I won't sleep tonight. I will run through the house, switching off the lights and straightening all of the picture frames, while Sarah is sleeping. This is something I will defend to the death. I will fight off the wolves and gypsies and try my best not to wake her with the slashing motions of my right arm. I am feeling like no one has ever deserved more to rest, and that I will give my life so that she will have it. I kiss, softly, the top of her head. The sheep watch quiety, and hold their children close. This is what it's like to be at rest.
Jan 28, 2009
Feb 2017 · 1.2k
Salt and oil and scent
J Arturo Feb 2017
When the sweat is dry on my brow
I will get up.
I'll be able to focus then better, I think.
The sweat is linked to a general malaise,
where objects drift in double shapes...
Not unpleasantly.
But smarter, I think, to stay. At least,
Let the pupils dilate, and left eye
Recalibrate it's aim.
The salt and sweat malign the eyes,
which either slip too fast past the the target,
or arrive a bit delayed.

You said:
Maybe we'd be happier if we moved on with our lives.
You're seeing something in Iowa that was likely there all along.
And the more I feel like you could slip away
I become more paranoid and afraid.
Wondering now who you're with,
Whether this path ultimately leads to my replace.

Though maybe we both agree, then, with what you said.
I can't hang on to something that long got on a plane and left.
Or try and **** through wires the delusion of a scent,
that dissipates, reductively, with every breath.

Though I will rephrase, in my own way,
the sentiment I think remains:
It would be more prudent to
Let the nose and lungs to rest.

         Let us be ungreedy with breath.

If you move on I will let you pass.
I cannot hold you within me,
And these cavities have not the space.

         But I will taste your color again, perhaps,
         In the wind, a laugh,
         The wet heat of a lovers face.

         I will taste your color again,
         In the wind, a laugh,
         The wet heat of a lovers face.

If you move on I will let you not just pass but
And rebuild a more modest faith:
Just once, to inhale again something like what went.

(And still remember what it meant.)
Sep 2016 · 799
sunrise vignette
J Arturo Sep 2016
the sun is hitting the yellow blinds and warming the room.
color temperature, not degrees yet.
someone is laughing in the garden.
we did the first line after swearing not to, but that
was a promise made when we were grumpy, doesn't count.
did the second one because there were two hours left.
did the third because there was one.

when the sun shines it reminds you
this part of the city is full of flowers
but most days they blend into the fray and
no buildings are painted white.
white things don't stay that way.
I even saw a white dog yesterday,
but covered in blue paint.

in two months someone rich will come
recognize either of our potentials
take us away to a seaside estate in
Rio, with no fog, only sun, and
a swimming pool built to mix
seamless with the Pacific Ocean.

they'll pay us to sit and think, put down
the genius obviously in us.

but likely we’ll just drink.
pop pills rail lines and such.
Jan 2016 · 512
J Arturo Jan 2016

Comes like breath, feeling the distance of
a heart you want, far away and fast asleep.
Pinpricks on light sleeping skin:
a restless stir and then forgotten.

This, a confident prison sonnet, made under
a bed in a black trash bag. Not a sonnet
a poet would construct, but sonnet-like enough
to leave you drunk.

Before last week I’d lose teeth in almost every dream:
Sometimes a front tooth would inexplicably fall away,
requiring expensive surgery:
Synthesizing a piece of plastic
into what was, once, entirely my own face.

Another: opening my mouth to introduce myself,
at some sort of business meeting. Teeth where they should be.
Then unable to speak as hundreds swelled, sprouted, fell
from factory-gums.
Trying to excuse myself to well-clad faceless men,
Blurred doll heads turned to the hostile hole in my face,
Flat planes of skin somehow emanating disgust and shame,
as yellowed little mouth bones spewed endlessly into the room,
and endlessly were replaced.

Months of these dreams built a muscle memory (that
life-affirming twitch we all have when we wake).
Alert suddenly in a cloud of cold sweat,
mouth open with hands clutching my face:
confirming tooth by tooth that each were in place.

I’m told we’re born with a visceral fear
of breaking something we can’t regrow.
She’s been here a week, and I no longer dream of teeth.
But I wake up just the same: wet and cold,
though my mouth is closed,
still reaching mindlessly for something to hold.

Remembering real change and knowing your voice:

That hearts care hard.

But can shift from heavy to sweet, and do so gently,
And do so while asleep.


A song to leave a thousand suns trembling.


Fingertips finally finding means.
Boys congregate, grow dense in your shadow:
always the odd. We, the tasteful insane:
who burn from both ends, so death
might spare us witness to the horrible
torture of slow decomposition, while
broken and weak we watch everyone we’ve
ever loved and all that was once good
grow colourless and succumb to the same slow decay,
until at last we crawl defeated into the grave.

We are selfish: we who want to never know.
We who want to be the first to go.


But your soft wet dreams left a taste that tied
nights to dawn. A single bruise. Window left open.
Someone clearly gone, yet careless with evidence.
In the bathroom, a faint honeysuckle scent.
Too sore, too tired, to comprehend what complex animal
could outdo and subdue, fiercely clawing, and teeth,
then leave such lingering sweetness when it went.

(In the kitchen there was a new vase,
in it a red chansonette: still curled into itself
in the cold of the pre-dawn house.
But as you approached, the rising sun touched
a gap between fence and garden gate,
and light reaching the flower,
like a lover, she stretched her arms to meet the day,
refracting the bright Santa Fe sun,
filling the whole room with the most delicate
red glow.

And then the light was gone. The sun had climbed.

The next morning you raced downstairs but
the angle had changed, no light came through the gate.
It stayed closed, and soon after died.

Chansonette, the flower of faith.

A brilliant and cruel animal,
astronomer and botanist, master of optics,
violent with hands delicate as flower petals.

Chansonette, the flower of faith.

A year later you put a new flower in the old vase,
a pencil mark indicating the exact place.
Started the coffee ***, daylight broke.

And in it came.


I want your futures to be maddeningly
beautiful and terrifying like a wild animal
ready to want to destroy you.


I’ve never seen you make breakfast.
But who am I to say you never make breakfast alone?

Then an unexpected sadness. Probably from lack of sleep.
And then a tear.
And then tearing a poster from the wall
For a concert missed three weeks ago.

God woke and made the flower.
The flower cannot wake and play god.


So strong, finding you lying weak,
longing for anything to fall into place.
Hit by supposed fear, then lust, and
life ****** from impossible lungs.

Born with legs, made to run.
To say.
To breathe.
To cut.
To take the time to count out
each unit of my spine.
To reach, and failing sink
into the slippery brass circles
of the self,
until the hundred metal lines are dry
and the hundred birds, so welcome, lift you back on high.


In focus: a bass-relief. Pale. Coppery.
Found in the British Museum, or similar mausoleum.
Miles of roads running beneath.
Goodbye sentences that may be pretended.
Always I, grasping at a shudder: choking
tremors into quieter worries.
Until later.
Until I can grasp the right point on the spine,
the right vertebrae,
pressing it and the human frame that comes attached
deep into beds always-washed.

Bound now.
Dirt and clothes and everything fake no longer speaking.


A woman with a plan. Running steady stairs.
Wondering how to measure the ache that comes with longing.
Waiting awake, probably loved.
When once given sadness: dried the wide and beating
insignificant sayings, pencilling each
into small red notebooks.
Then silencing the sounds from every hurtful word:
out of the air and onto the page, transformed
into the arbitrary scratches of penlines we call words.

Into the fire with them:
to the fire with regrets.
With the ashes
spring a whole field of Chansonettes

Every line ends in silence.

Build, especially.
Fill great books with great words.
Burn the rest.
In seas of ash, don’t swim: float.

There is a hunger you can’t forget:
it lives in the throat.
Nov 2014 · 610
First try at Spanish
J Arturo Nov 2014
En está ciudad los cielos
cuelga debajo de las caras.
hacer riéndo los ojos,
para caminar los olvidados.

Un ***** circulo—
el iris es como una reja gris:
colores eliminar desde ellos sabiendo
que no tienen su propia luz.

Los ojos solo son espejos.
Y la luna direge sin sombra.


In this city the heavens
hang under the faces.
do laughing eyes,
walking the forgotten.

A black circle -
The iris is like a gray fence:
remove colors from them knowing
who do not have their own light.

Eyes are just mirrors.
And the moon direge without shade.
Updated for grammar 28/11
Sep 2014 · 675
Like living, without water
J Arturo Sep 2014
Dana: there’s skin, bed, today.
Snow we’d make.

Land, air, sun… wrote rain.
Running, tired, west.
Cold winter half started.
‘Sweat’, says summer.

Gonna, moments ago, die.
Hit. Lie. Believe.

Broken. Felt. Sat. Lives hurt.
Fragile tomorrow wind:
Hell outside.

        ****** flowers.
        Eat brittle regret ***.

Lima couldn’t Damian;
break wave forever.
Kind times, leaving wondering days.
Dead drive; fly hard, wishing legs.

        Lights turned bones.
        Growing rich soon, lines
        raised: broke fog.
        Easy fighting names.

Drove car. Dinner. Worked.
Survive Monday, certainly.

Hung grief. Drank *******.
Expect usual ceremony rocket:
Sarah. Puck. ******* Cusco.
Connor, Corey: we’ve gone.

        Stone **** hot soft body.
        Dying, wanting. Undress.

Tied. Nights used.
Dawn gave secret pause,
Painting blood poems:
likely self story.
Gods weak, fall asleep.
Surely meaning darkness happen.
Suppose **** stayed, brought knowing?

Mountain hair.
True thousand strings, grasp getting
Gently heard. Endless floor.

Another about my wife. See previous poems for rules and structure.
Sep 2014 · 562
What tongues won't do
J Arturo Sep 2014
Like breath,
people feel distance.

Away, far: light sleep,
falling feels forgotten. We’ve
really make
love. Days. Words. Sky.

Morning: dark.
Stay solid,
eat remoteness. Space:
impending decline.
Children asleep long:
Hands. Eyes.

Tongue won’t

slow stagnant works.
Same concept as previous poem. This one about my wife.
Sep 2014 · 364
Scene poets
J Arturo Sep 2014
Bones sing soul moments.
Understand: inside, just lips, eyes:
small nature. Soft hands, unable.
Need past; unable. Brain felt mortal:
motion golden, rhythm, knowledge, thoughts.



Sky abyss: laughter.
Wings lonely begin rain,
ocean attempt salty breath:


Skin, air, long-lungs:
drink selfish!

Realise. Continue. Remember. Try
heavy sweet waves. Comfort:


Feeling memory singing
cold bright veins; holds instead pulse-poetry.
Face silent: away-like.

Paint things. Kiss hours. Desire play. Fall truly.
Grasp emotion. Stop. Embrace smoke.
Bring childhood. Falling. Soil. Coffee.

Midnight wolf begins romance... bleed!
Separate prayer: gravity. Understanding, darling.
Sip magnificent ambition alongside decaying ribs.
Fingertips couldn't fight droplets. Must
follow moments, gone to where best clouds lie.

******* wanderlust. Swimming.
Fighting. Confused. Smiled & swallowed:

You mad scene poets.
This is for my friend Katy, It's a new experiment, and I'll probably follow up with more, I find a poet on Hellopoety and go to their "Words" page. Then I write something using only the words on that page, adding only punctuation and line breaks. It's been challenging for some poets but immensely rewarding for others. Send a note if you try it, I'd love to see your results
Sep 2014 · 639
The Test Path
J Arturo Sep 2014
Part one

my understanding of youth was
interrupted vignettes, I guess.
the little moments overlapsed the
greater moves like
deciding to move to Canada.
or learning I could *******.

but all that sticks is little toys
received at Christmas, the
talking plastic face we tried to
stuff down in the side storage of the
family van on a long drive to the far
east coast.

the way some jellyfish stung my leg and
realizing there existed a kind of pain
that patience could will away.

but I had to go to England for a month.  to get outside myself.
coincidentally meeting up with a girl who'd
read my poems, thought them ok.
spent two days, stupid, with what we thought were romantic notions.

then walked that old dog through endless English fields
inhaling my hands incessantly until the scent at last had dried away.

I am a different person now.

But back then I walked till my feel hurt, then
collapsed in a city I'd never been, and
Only lamented the complications I'd caused
when she dragged me back to Lockerly again.  

Made bacon, warmed bagels, softened cheese, poured wine
in a house, not mine, in the English countryside.  
Are these not the dreams, when young,  we live by?

She kissed me on the porch, on a bench,
the night before she caught the train.
(I remember I was sitting on the left. )
Inside later asking, politely, if she would undress.
And the next morning, new to this,
offering  breakfast.

We were sixteen, what did we know?
We'd listened to pop music from a small stereo and didn't have ***.
And that morning all I
could do was go with her to meet the train.    

Then keep walking that small dying dog
as if he could fill in the rest.

Part Two (interlude)

She visited my parents' house later that season in a summer dress.
We sat at the dining room table, for maybe an hour,
Making small talk, and then she left.
That was the first time she'd worn a dress.

Part Three*

I came back from college wanting to do something stupid, so we
Put on headlamps and invaded the sewers, skewered
the brickwork waded in filth I thought
Who, if anyone, would follow someone through this mess?

Then we drank one beer each from our
sewage-soaked sacks, went to the unrenovated room
my parents had reserved, sheetboard and a mattress...
In case I ever came back.

We watched Perfume, the film, on a laptop, then had ***.
I guess.
I mean it was
***, but so much less. Less than the painting I had in my head.
Less than the time we ran away to France.
Less than four years of high school.
Less than a glance.

We woke around ten.  Dressed. She
looked me in the eyes with what I didn't know was goodbye.
Shook my hand, and left.

But in those first few half lidded moments
(when dreams are hit with light and turned to steam)
when you know what's coming next but first must find a missing sock, must
scan the room for evidence

When naked in bed and sober now and so
confused yet actualized at least lifted to
meet the north window winter light when this
immovable stone of a woman rose
put her
hands on my shoulders and coward-like kissed me from behind

I threw everything I thought I knew at
something I'd no right to know. Her
dark skin, her skinny fragile frame. With I
so grossly white in the December light. Wanting
everything, too young
to know what yet.

You know who you are.
You who laid there.
You who, raised up,
Placed lips on my my right shoulder, from behind.

You who kissed me in the back.

Then clasped your bra and
quickly dressed. Didn't want breakfast.
and before my stepmom could notice: left.

Several years have passed. I've

Maybe never felt loved like that.
J Arturo Sep 2014
particles never stay in the same place.
you were a tin can but now you're a horse, running alone
tethered maybe to a burned up stable
but mostly a creature of fire, muscle, sweet speed sweat that
takes pause only to graze from the land.

you are a machine.
a machine that runs.
a running machine.

and you tried to change, didn't you?
saw a California sunset in a psychedelic silhouette,
grew legs and became a beast of the land.

there was a great plain with mountain frame but
your legs. your eyes. your tail your flies by god
if I could tame.

very few could love you but those that do,
will dehydrate, expire, at the mirage that rises
and fades with you from view.

you are a horse running alone and my
body aches to be the stream you drink from, to be the
sunset that gives you solace, if
ever you require some.

you are different now and I am the same shape,
dressed even as I was the day you left.

I want your love for me
to be the ruined running ground
beneath sweat soaked feet:
stable, and strong
then impermanent, and weak.
Sep 2014 · 437
J Arturo Sep 2014
we dreamt of a hiding place in
costa rica
with stars hung low on their strings
where I filled the bathtub
     running lukewarm
     across the back of my hand
     and you took a drink of cold cold water
     to calm your bones

and the sky wakes up warm
over the prime meridian
where we lift our eyes like lovers
and focus on the new dew, the old dawn
spilling out over the lawn
     your hands tight with callouses
     and my shaking brittle bones
     walls rich, in photographs of palaces
     and all our broken homes.
J Arturo Aug 2014
maybe it's selfish to say I'm
not strong without you around.
that the entire house burned down
and you make me wonder how much I want you
or just need you for shade.
who knows what love is anyway.
when lying alone in the ashes the
sun stings my eyes and burns my face.

I don't know what I want from you
but it's not to take from you, it's how
when you're around there's somehow more of me.

so when I say it'll be better when you get here I mean
this ground lay fallow, but maybe we won't build a house this time..
maybe a tree.
maybe these ashes could nourish a seed.
from a few weeks ago
J Arturo Aug 2014
ok so
what I was trying to say a month ago
that Lima of six million citizens is interest worthy uniquely for
it is (I have travelled significantly and) maybe yes likely the only city I've known
raised completely on a foundation of sand and
god, does it draw the mind to find something so much built
from grey-brown particles dust and quite really dirt look
beneath three cathedrals no joke it's
formica silica a bit of gypsum maybe.
regardless an earthquaking silty stiffness lies below.

and yes maybe I've been forced to love this city because
for whatever reason in my capacity made bad choices and I
have— no, have been made to
come to this city as the only enclave
the FBI won't pull me from.

but regardless I once said four years ago that I could
learn to love anyone, given the
willpower faith and motivation and
******* already I may love this
city I may love the way it always fog and evening rains but
the precocious days when sunshine comes are
unexpectedly– even possibly–
brighter than the days once were in Santa Fe.

Because the world has her Paris and her Seinne, her
London, and her Thames,
and her
New Amsterdam and old and Guineas new (and both) but when
You put a cornerstone down on lowliest ground, stack stones there only trying to–

one must respect a faith in what
shouldn't ever have happened.

Because Lima in growing to love and love can
Bring up tears but maybe you
start to glimpse at the heart of someone, after these years see that
Babylon dried the Tigris and
Shanghai may as well be the Yangzee but
Lima is a
peasant town, built from nothing,
while human we

cart in over tonnage vegetables and quartered meat
to eat, and eat– we
need to live to live we eat...

and from the Mirador De San Cristobal a striking view of where we sleep:
Lima six million bodies row on row.
What was once desert here we will decompose
and with craven frames prompt trees to grow.

There is more soil here than ever in
the geologic predestiny of the place and
Hell it could be three years even before
the Holy Bomb does come to
wipe clean leave stones of the
"human race" but this–
this city will do what cities do chew
up our radiated bodies all
criminal convictions forgiven each
soul I guess heaven, revelations, to
start a new.

This city is a desert I choose to live here
because when I die these trees will
(having no choice)
Exhume my body these
trees will grow where trees don't go and
from my remains make soil make
sand make earth make

If I must die childless I
can at least saturate the sand
in Lima, can at least,
serve conduit for something new.
maybe unfinished
Jun 2014 · 935
One week later:
J Arturo Jun 2014
Tamir is Israeli. I don't know what that means beyond he speaks Hebrew, came at one point from that area, and keeps dark-skinned friends.

I'm trying to cultivate a lethal talent
because one day I want to **** people
by painting them as they are

(and when you're known
as yourself
you have
nothing else)

but all my days are micro montages, characters
grandiose, come and go
drink a beer, do a line, perhaps
chat about the politics of
Germany France UK Belgium a
little high.
and then they go.

this is a great city on maybe
the world's longest coast
and odds are tomorrow, 87%, the whole day will be
grey and fog and a halfdark cloak
with a sort of haphazard mist that isn't rain, but
somehow in the grey condenses enough to
slippen tiles, dampen jackets, water roses
where everywhere it blow.

within four weeks men in black jackets, ties
sunglasses and training will come for me
and though I have accomplished much and
in a way am capable I
will try and throw myself from a nearby cliff and I
dream at night of the *****, of
wonder how far out I'd have to leap
to hit the highway below.
(and honestly politely hoping I
don't disrupt too much traffic when I go)

because there is a life lived and a life worth living and this
molecular decomposition holds
no loyalty on me. but I guess I had some
faith that I would live to....
that I would live.

I saw my life a grand tapestry. thought my
idolatry would eventually
coalesce into at least one great novel, Bildungsroman, tale of
development and
I guess that's been taken away from me.

and I've prepared ill-ly only exercised in
beat/postmodern poetry. l will
maybe soon stumble from the cliffs or
handcuffed bite my wrists, and
take any artery I might rend open

and all particles, unfettered, heartless bits. nonwritten novel, this is it...

there is the west and then there is the ocean.
Jun 2014 · 797
J Arturo Jun 2014
If I survive the next few years, I may wish I'd written more about this time. My self is certainly transforming, but it's such a minimal bother to document it. It's 7:10 am. I worked at the bar until about one. Bill came by unexpectedly, and I went to his house and bought twenty grams for five hundred, as well as fifty worth of **** for Gillian. I suppose I've been high since about 11 o'clock.

John says that Bill is certainly the most intelligent man he's ever met. I used to feel that way about people. I spent the rest of the night at the bar, and then at the couch, talking to Sarah and Liz. Liz's last name is Oliphant. Sarah is Croatian. Liz is prettier. I would like to kiss either of them.

This **** may be better than last time, I'm not sure. As usual, as is whenever I get high, everyone leaves me in the early morning. It was around five this time. Maybe five thirty. As usual I thought to watch TV but Andrea looked so comfortable curled up on the couch in reception and I hadn't the heart to bother her. I learned a new word today: gallow, I believe it was... meaning to frighten. Or gallowed, meaning to be very afraid.

As is not usual, this time after I got in bed I did another line. Two in fact. And the largest I'd done all night. Because oddly this is the first time in the last month that I've stayed up all night without having anywhere to be, or otherwise any obligations the next day. I was going to go to the markets and buy pants. But I suppose a day in bed will justly stall that need for another turn at least.

And it had been a while. Actually I can't even remember when. The last time I was high by myself, and not overly drunk, and able to just stare up at the bunkbed slats supporting the German or French or Dutch fellow now above me and feel the unmoderated effect of the dear drug itself as she works through me. I know I'll regret this. I always regret it. But I was regretting it already and so to stall the regret and stare upwards for a few hours, treating myself to a little selfish time, seemed not the lowest of sins.

And I work at four. Four to eight thirty. So even if I don't sleep a wink and even if I continue to defy conscience and maybe do the one more line thing again, I can still power through. Can still sit leeward on the barstool and listen to 90's alt rock hits and putter through the motions of making it past eight. I can do that. And I can spend 30 minutes in this exaltation and then stare listlessly at the mattress above me and all its cartoon moons and stars while I debate the uselessness of my life and all the strings I've severed when I came here to drown.

Because this is a true story. It doesn't wrap up, or nicely. And there's no twist, but ongoing turns I guess. I'm a newborn, dripping with womb in a way and without even language or very many clothes: I feel much like one indeed. And I tried to buy a phone card today because it's something I need but the man told me to go somewhere else, gave good directions, and I didn't really understand. Likewise it seems will fail my dream for today to get out of this room, and buy new pants.

I can accept my grandfather dying. Every time I've seen him I've said goodbye. And he in his humble way, or maybe faith, always hints at see you soon. My grandmother sure. If anything somewhere maybe I expected the grief would take her. Or afterwards the dire space left between caring for her husband's ailing pains. But I always thought I'd know well before my mother would go. And now won't. And honestly never considered but now dramatically realize: I'll never be an uncle to my brothers' sons. Never see my sister find her place. Never see Brandy become the quiet dark eyed schoolteacher she is in my dreams. And also she will die and I won't see that, either. Not even anyone will call on the phone.

So I start with, "if I survive the next few years" because regardless those years will mean loss. Either loss of those loved, or more likely loss of that complex potential of mind... that once made space to love them. Or maybe better lost the own bitter instrument. And I say it all without condolence because each those ways feel, to me, tragic. Each way feels to me like something bright once in the world, that had to perish. I go forth with some sadness into the dark.
I've been trying to find a voice. It's harder in prose than poems. And I can't find fiction in myself, so I keep tormenting my life into the fiction I wish I could create. But every day baby steps I guess.
Jun 2014 · 895
Fertile crescent
J Arturo Jun 2014
The cranes cling along the sea cliff
yellow spiders perhaps made skittish
by the rolling morning mist.
they swing and strain with (do I detect?)
a nervous urgency until
when the sun half shines through
to draw the fog and warm
fragile yellow exoskeletons.

There are plastic bags now in the dog parks, cameras
grow on top of poles.
Exercise equipment planted in the gardens, at the edge of the sea
(certain I would have noticed them before).

These towers must be taller, then.
I've seen them at work for a year and a half,
they must be–
with all that nervous energy.
Tire tracks from heavy trucks.
A bent rail, discarded candy bar.
Morning sand on the sidewalk
where secret midnight bricks were laid.
And here, maybe, a new banner flies:
"Se vende." To sell oneself.
To give oneself away.
J Arturo May 2014
"I need to make more art"
I say today. But not tomorrow,
tomorrow I am heading west, again,
into a new notebook I've titled, "Chapter 3"

And my friends, the poets
weight a web from their pupils, to their hangedman's shame
but I will just tell you about my morning:
the coffees I sipped, the hours clocked.
I scraped the edges from my fingernails
with the tip of my traveling knife.

Last night I shared a cigarette on the fire escape,
while Rachel cried about her leaving friend.
Looking at the sky, trying to conjure a feeling of insignificance.
But all I could feel was mighty...

(musing that, like topiary,
perhaps one day I'll not have nails at all.)
J Arturo May 2014
I, too, can write passion poems:

(and if you were a rose I'd pick you and stick you
in water till you withered and died and
everyone would comment
on your color
and refined shape.)

so let's collide with night through our noses:
wake to your banging fist on my swinging door
and binge on bad ideas and beatless songs
till distended with poetry we grow ill and collectively
**** sunsets onto those 365 well-ruled pages
        that we pray to in pews in this church of hedonists--
        every book a bible, all manuals for *******.

so at dawn we
criticize the sunrise, hang ourselves
from the belltower, for kicks.
or lash limbs together under covers,
those well-rehearsed kisses
a myriad of plots:

and with our bony fingers,
tie the sumblimest of knots.
Mar 2014 · 445
all up in knots
J Arturo Mar 2014
sheridan you’re
the first other person I’ve ever
wrote a poem

I’ve written about just
everyone, lovingly but usually
in a weird passive regret.
but never sent the letter, just
stewed alone, that’s me:

a stew.


and I’m writing a poem to you because I
can’t find a better way

       well of course my immediate response is to
       (on your notes):

       “******* it girl you are going to be So… OKAY.”

but you know you won’t believe it.
know I didn’t when I was you and
so maybe I
(maybe I)
thought a poem might grasp at trying to say:

I don’t know much and most people I get wrong,
and I’ve ****** up and (for some reason) **** up still,
but ******* it girl I’ve seen every Kind of ****** Up and
you’re jumping every hurdle, blowing past
each road bump with
flying colors I
don’t know how you do it but I— *******…

       if you could have seen me in writers craft
       spilling to mr. spree the way I
       weekly carved a heart into the
       skin on my chest just…

       to grasp at something permanent.

(just to feel
a little bit different).

and I know you hurt in your own way and you
gotta, please—
and if you don’t try (and at least pretend) to **** your
at least twice before graduating then you

probably aren’t graduating yet.

but I’ve seen Every Kind of ****** Up and kid you’re
none of it, and I’d bet ten thousand dollars
(you can hold me to it)
that in five years you’re going to be the

       the happiest
       most amazing person most people will ever be lucky enough to know.

               they’re gonna say, “I need to get my life together”, and
               you’re gonna say, “and I want to be there with you for that.”

                       and you will love.
                       and you will be loved in love.

                       because you do your damnedest and that’s *******


and not only are you going to be So very happy
(ten thousand $, promise)
but you’re going to make everyone around you happy…

               you’re going to be one of those rare rare creatures
               (people will be suspicious)

                       ..who are true sources of good in this world.

       and it’s going to be so entirely different than
       anything you can imagine now:

       going to do things you’d never dream about and
       do drugs you can’t pronounce and hurt people because
       you tried to help and
       fall in love with a Loser or a Railroad or a
       Foreign Country and either way will get let down but
       get back up and keep on going because

       (it seems like)
               when you can
                       you do your best.

and yes it will lead to disappointment.
when you see
you’re not really like the rest.

       (most people hardly try at all…
               …and generally aren’t who you’d expect)

and I know it sounds extreme and I
want you to not believe me cuz—
who would.. but
like I said I’ve

       seen All Kinds of ****** Up and somehow, kid
       you’ve got it.
       you’ve got it just right.

               musta been an angel or something…
               (..or a very hard fight)

and I guess I wrote this to say that you’ve gotta do
you’ve gotta do.
and you’re gonna break hella hearts and a couple laws too.
but if you’re ever alone, and

“what am I even worth?”

I hope from this poem you can at least take away

       that at least someone thinks you’re
       doing great.

               and **** the ******* anyway.
for my little sister, who is sixteen.
Feb 2014 · 458
dream, from a year ago
J Arturo Feb 2014
There had been some sort of attack.. something was compromised. We had to get the rocket up to a certain height to destroy the source of the infection but there was no fuel-- until we remembered we had certain small quantities of nuclear fuel in storage somewhere far below in the machinery.

I could travel to distant planets but I had to go to a certain street at the back of a small english housing complex. The dirt paths were muddy and all of the buildings were covered in pieces of paper with warnings on them. Mom and I went. I wanted to show her this new trick.

We travelled to other planets by dressing warmly and laying back with our eyes closed in the front seat of the car. And then you were there. And you could do things and interact with people and bring stuff back. But you always awoke again in the front seat of the car. Mom didn't believe it and so she was fidgeting and talking and I never travelled anywhere at all.
Jan 2014 · 2.7k
J Arturo Jan 2014
the hills were beginning to grow
the grass greening on the approach
to Blue Earth, and how
in summer
Minnesota shed her old coat
to shy guilty into brief silty lakes
like the
joy of a little kid, sneaking a forbidden dip.

remarking, casually, about
white warm flowers hung low from
planned oaks, and the impossible way the town
pulled local hills close, to coat
in dandelions. and cultivate
all under an ambitious midwestern sun.

          rolling through the stop sign, hand on mine
          you told me if you’re moving at all

          you should keep it in second gear.

and we had so far to go, but in the light that
broke through westbound clouds,
we became less so.
contented to spread toes out in earth we
dug into Minnesota, the middle coast:
a land we could like to get to know.

and you:
looking down at the salt, the sand, the scars of
the grand american plantation:
the last coast.
knowing that by the next coast, we
you and me.
we'd be through.

          saying, ‘how could anybody die?’

          ‘how could anybody tell you anything true?’

undercut by the honest waves of the little lake,
the hum that drummed in my gas tank.
trying, for once, at a little piece of truth:

          when I leave this place I leave
          a part of me behind.

          and that part of me
          will be you.

saying there’s only so much sweetness in the soil,
only so long after the thaw,
and grief is rich and dark and made for sowing:
must be, for maintaining verdant local hills, must be
for to keep corn sweet. must be for to put
on the table. must be for to
keep with us.

          for to keep a little bit to eat.

saying, we bleed but together we make a hole
to bury both our bodies in.
saying there’s a west out west but too late it’s
already hemmed us in.

          saying now I am only a fragile assimilation of this weak
          and fractured purpose that drives me, and you are

          beautiful enough I would lie to let you love me.

even I would scorch this soil if only things wouldn’t grow I would
saying Blue Earth is still in the trucker's atlas is
only an excuse for sunshine. a point,
where freeways go.
“with earth, so green, that here they call it 'Blue'.”

          “I could learn to love a leopard.”

          “how dare you.”
Nov 2013 · 2.3k
a day in the life (12/13)
J Arturo Nov 2013
it's been a while since I wrote "a day in the life" or even
those little diatribes about the girls I like
but tonight the keys on my keyboard feel shorter, somehow
more eager to go down
and I'm tired
but it's good to write.

I'll start with monday I guess because that's when today started
I don't know how I keep this up and survive, but
I'm pretty sure I've been sleeping three nights a week for
months now.
it's like... haha... a year after polyphasing I need to make up for lost time.
Monday was Dana's parents ("parental") anniversary, it says in
the pink striped box, on the week view, of my calendar
I don't remember getting up but I started the clock at 10am sharp with
"remove sets and 5 easy steps from current"
no, never mind, I remember it now
(I checked my texts)
Damian invited me to breakfast, Tuneup, I said 8:45
he said he'd be there earlier. I got there at 8:30, before him
and sat in the back room. read the cached news items on my iPad. ate
a breakfast burrito with bacon, smothered, green
because I didn't want him to see me eating, again,
a burrito with the chili inside.
but he sat in the other room with… someone I can't remember
(I heard them, grabbed my coffee and switched seats)
he had kids, though. so we talked about kids. and they talked about kids
I don't really care about describing work any more.

Dana's mad at me, now, definitely– if it's 10am on Monday
It may have started last night… I don't know. She's mad because I work all day
and she has off
not that I know what we'd do to celebrate.
I went to Northern New Mexico College… impressed Sandy... Sandy something.
Impressed Damian by impressing Sandy, and as we drive back from Española
I realize that he's somehow grown into a larger part of my life than I thought would happen
and I'm almost wondering now if
when we leave from here
Dana will be enough to fill it.

It had snowed over the weekend, the mountains above Santa Fe were red with blood and the
valley spread out beneath us was white like… "white people", and it was (I think, should have been)
dark by the time I got home.

Dana had cleaned everything… and she never cleans everything, but she was so mad
and I was mad. hell. I was mad. because I don't want to be this person either
I mean, of course I do
can we ever be anyone, but who we want to be?
but more than this person I wanted to be somebody who suffers, and suffers for something good
and I knew that I could righteously suffer for this trip and for Damian and not have to suffer
for whatever person I might be afraid of becoming.

So when I told her I was going to work all night, she was even more upset and then we were
leaving for her christmas party but I realized that I have no interest in Starbucks or
the people she works with and she had no interest in me right then so I told her I would stay and
I guess at least she only texted me three or four times furiously.

and I… worked. I could tell you how. but I don't care.
and she came home. mad.
but Jones and Katy came over later, it was my idea
and I tried to install my new electronic sensor gadget while they three
sat on the bed and read poetry
(Katy and Jones had broken up earlier that day)

and after they left… at maybe three, Dana was being nicer to me
and I held her some, and we made out, but I
but maybe, this time, it was a little more ok.

I went to breakfast, again
went to Patricia's, felt sad.
Came home, again. drove Dana to work, again.
Checked Ryan's mail box to see if I'd missed our delivery.
spent an hour and a half on Skype with Jeff, Connor listened...
I want to say admiringly

and then we took more adderall and started writing code and things got
a little fadey for a few hours, but I was ok because I am always ok and Connor
is really good at this, really– I mean. Connor is really good. and I want him to be happy.
and to try and tell him this I bought him burgers at five star (in Devargas, where we saw Todd)
and offered to give him my car.
we dropped off Katy's phone at Connor's house and came back here, took more drugs and tried to write but
it's getting over our heads now, and I'm feeling soft and strange
but soon Dana is off work and she seems, even, happy now
as we drive to Ben Sobol's birthday, where I gave him a book
and allowed myself to entertain, for a few minutes, the thought that Ryan might come to Lima. but we had to
come home

because I know I might be tired by now, know I was once before.

and tomorrow there is so much to do.

but sleep wouldn't come and I started writing my thoughts out, about instagram and privacy
and, to Damian, about whether compiling .less was worth it in the long run
and, thinking, who will argue with me like this when santa fe is done?
and then Dana and I had *** and now is the part where I sleep so hard it hurts but I keep thinking and it feels nice instead.
and so it's four am now, and I write.

and write. caught up on time.

still trying to catch my breath, from the ***– I've had a whole pack of cigarettes today, haha, maybe I'm
suffering myself to death
but mostly it doesn't even hurt, I just can't breathe, and my heart races to break free of my chest
(to go where it will be better kept).

so I wrote this because I looked down at my feet on the berber carpet lit by the rope light under our bed and I was afraid
that I might never again know what it was like to look down at something like that,
soft, orange, warm. home.
and with Dana, falling asleep to my left.

we leave for lima two weeks from today.
I told Ryan last night that it's because it's too easy here, because everything's been done
but it's a cruel thing to say… I think… when no one has it easy here, nobody has what they want
in fact it seems like almost everyone, not just here, spends most of life trying to get this
while we see our satisfaction only as an imperative to throw it away.
hey. I guess I said I'd
like to die a poet
and now it's looking that way.

and I guess the reason I keep standing outside, the reason I texted Rachel from Danny's porch is that I've always
left every place with a plan to come back to
all those Rachel's fire escapes.
but I've never yet looked back, and certainly never gone home.
so the question, as I see it now is:
am I always going forward because I've always been running away?
or is it just impossible to go back to where you came?

because I am happy here. and this, for the first time, does not feel like an escape
so I'm scared it will turn out like one anyway.
From almost a year ago today
Nov 2013 · 366
fire season II
J Arturo Nov 2013
September again fire season is over.
Winter still to begin.
It won't snow yet though, and we know why:
it's too dry.

I saw your face in a picture magazine, cut it, gently, from the frame
took in your nose also your cheeks much the same and walked
my eyes down the line of your brow
and gently off the page.
(I have never once stayed in the same place.)

And the refrigerator fills, dust gathers on the floor, the leaves outside also look dry and I don't hang things on the walls anymore.
September again
that's not what walls are for.

September, I
again once wrote letters that also meant something.
But I don't mean it anymore.
Sep 2013 · 1.0k
J Arturo Sep 2013
the red heat at last broke across the
misshapen backs of two old crows
lifting from The Omen Tree to cast
the day's last shadow on our lengthening lawn.
and Jess turned to me stern like she'd
might well never see the sun again and said
It's in my blood, Sloan, it's rocket-bone fever
I know it and it's got right a good hold on me, too.

        rocket-bone, she says, where your legs need to "go"
        her eyes wide like each one could take off any minute
        to unknown destinations each a little fighting piece of Jess.

and I said I love you Puck but you know you're
wound right up, tighter than baling wire and no
amount of rocket fuel is gonna rip you away from me so
        guzzle up buttercup rocket-bone or no you got
        nowhere else to go and hell baby you know even the
        Titan Two Class missile herself's got a home.

because I love you Puck and I know how it goes and
if it ain't kerosene in your bloodstream it's
the president calling on the telephone
saying you've won come on down or it's
flesh eating fish in our neighbor's pool
old Gloria Whitford, mother to eleven,
who you're certain you killed in a duel.

        and I said I'm gonna take care of you Puck cuz
        you're a crazy *** ***** and full up with **** but
        baby you're still built outta rocket parts.
        and every bit of you is still a fighting piece waiting to blow
        hit every city on the eastern seaboard you rocket-bone you
        and warheads or no hell I bet the President then even would phone,

if I ever let you go.
J Arturo Sep 2013
nothing lives at 14,000 feet.
on the high pass the last land
the grassland we'd drag our sheep
to briefly graze between the valleys of
colca, and puno.
focused in motion, heads low
wrapped round in many layers when we'd sleep.

in dens, in dark, in distrust of stars
and worn old men of mists each night,
that toothlessly bite,
at broken brown stone, gums
hopeless, hungry, salivating and desperately white.

nothing lives at 14,000 feet.
but rocks dreaming cold rock dreams.
remembering when babel fell...
fists first ****** from young rubble, to find
that hands are hands and hands can climb.

nothing lives at 14,000 feet.
but the livestock we'd drag
and keep alive, tireless
because towers are brought low
but hills only grow
and there are coats to stay the snow.

but to pass through this place we
knowing tempt death, incur
the wrath of Abraham blaspheme
the Word and the Way and
the rich air and pastures,
from which rocks are raised
to keep us from the heights for which we lust.

in old history, obvious.
forgot. spoke only in folk songs.
ritualized in rote laws.

but in secret, memorialized.
as solitary, at the highest point
each passerby takes pause...

stares down at the earth from the sky,
kneels, in the dust, picks up
three, four, not more, small brown rocks
to place at maras in defiance and triumph.

superstitiously stacking little stones.
as if to say,
"here lord.
here is something you can knock down.
here is something you can bring low."
Aug 2013 · 544
travelling west again
J Arturo Aug 2013
each time we sleep, confess
a little desire for death.
there's just twenty names that live in your head
bukowski, ginsberg, &c.;
where each of us on this street would give away
our very lives to make
number nineteen on that list.

i received a letter from the alpine
in which she explained that
due to our lack of allergies, our physical beauty
and our pines
our story would likely never end
"because we've got no morals, ideals, there is
really no end game we've got
nothing we'd die for, or couldn't live without."

i lie awake reading what was never wrote thinking that
we'll wind up together like vines without posts

or lines, in poems.
J Arturo Jul 2013
it's the morning of Tuesday
June twenty fifth, and the fog, again
rolls in against lima and listlessly scales the escarpment
and Dana (like I) high on ******* and circumstance
has gone with Chris and Cameron, to watch from the cliffs
(this time something loose has shifted, and I hope they kiss).
and Corey is here
asleep to my left
tired from a whole day of travel and
Dana calls her an insomniac but
I think she's at rest.

And an empire is how she took off her shirt
and gold is the way she doesn't object
when I trace maps in her back and put an ear to her chest.

because I don't know who this is or why
my fantasies fixated here, but they work, unbidden
behind purposed eyes
buena vida es buena ficion y
good fiction is impossible to expect.
like when under your skin, New England, dunes
drift and dance to the hand at your neck.

because I have everything I could ever want and for
me in my figured out life, these flighty daydreams aren't problems but
more like preproduction films to maybe see, to get lost in, given breath and a bit of sunlight.
because I have never heard Corey complain or object and until I do I
will continue to give to her everything I have, will continue to
try to understand the invisible hairs at the base of her spine.
try to reward what goes unrecognized.

because we're all bent up patchwork machines, and
I'm sure Corey crumbles inside as much as I, but
when you fly to peru and lay with certainty your head against mine,
into a stranger's neck, and lie still
when you could struggle to explain but don't even try
when you are beautiful, but keep on going still...

the ******* can't what my hands will,
in walking the staircase of her spine.
keep me watchful, and up all night,
to try in fingertips to recognize,
that you are beautiful and someone needs
to see you to sleep. to feel you to fly.
J Arturo Jul 2013
I promised to write a poem for every city in peru
the eager, the sleepy, the proud, the sooty. even cusco, rude and slow.
but there's nothing to say
having come back here twice, besides:
why, freed from home into endless space and time,
why why why we couldn't find someplace new to go?

I'm trying to write something that makes sense.
and growing frustrated at that.
which shouldn't be a surprise, but is, because I've
been looking for the same skin all night, in
old hills in new muscles, in
the way I probed the tones in Corey's back.
in the way I'm exhausted but can't sleep, shaking still.
in the way I stand in the shower thinking surely
if human warmth won't work hot water will.

then it's too quiet there too much like a tomb so
maybe outside.
maybe I'll go maybe I'll
look up at the sky maybe I'll write
how cusco's hills can be alive
despite such fickle fragile lights.
and how romantic, here, I know.
but the air sticks in the mouth, the throat
it tries.
and the throat is tied.
and the little lights are little coals.

reach for the tap.
try to turn the faucet back to cold.
J Arturo Jun 2013
no one reads bedtime stories in
cusco, there is no numb preservation of
old heroes, no myths–
maybe because it was built on older gods and they have died
the air chokes the lungs and it rains in a hapless way
(as if to pass the time)

the days go like this
we wake at 4, eat one free meal
have a few beers
find a line, do a line
do so many lines, get impossibly high
and then peter out sadly and disoriented when there's no more to find.

I'll look back on these three weeks as simpler times
with good friends in a bad city, fighting in a way what
can never be changed.
these gods have died.

dear cusco: stop shaking old bodies, cities should
grow, but you tear yourself up,
trying to find something below:
dig up shards of spent ghosts.
lay them out in a thin white row.
Apr 2013 · 770
J Arturo Apr 2013
arequipa central has 530 registered buildings
according to the world heritage archive,
and this room this bar these four old couches are supported
by eighteen foot ceiling, four foot thick walls, limestones
urged from the earth in forever ago, so
when the earth shakes there's somewhere to go.

this morning I couldn't finish my coffee but climb in a bus
with a man who
said the mountains, here, were once people too.
misti & wife chachani, urged from the earth in forever ago
once fought with such destruction that God, in His
almighty Wisdom
sundered and separated and a canyon placed between their
penitent heads all bowed surrendered
in caps of snow.

but every age or so
she is much taller but he, a volcano, spews and
spits she stands and
we carve out the earth in hollow dens, so
when it shakes there's somewhere to go.

and they say when the ground gives way, you
all you can do,
is to look up and see snow.

in the holy talmud they wrote,
cover thine head
in order that the fear of heaven
may be upon the living.

and conduct great sorrows on the those who dwell below.
Apr 2013 · 475
the god in the mountain
J Arturo Apr 2013
I saw snow this morning for the first time in forever ago and
said a silent prayer
to the beast and the bereft and the preternaturally on fire and
wasn't sure whether I was addressing land or sky
but I was brought back to the time
you pleaded with me
to, for you, recall please a single happy memory
and when I couldn't you cried.

and I can't explain how it's so
like snow that comes to rest in the sky.

I'm just saying that sometimes the mind fails
sometimes the best of us are fickle, fallow, fake
sometimes the sky sends water into the grave.
but the ceremony goes on anyway.

sometimes there is so much a body can take.
sometimes the volcano decides
that we, all of us, should shake.
and the ceremony goes on anyway.
Apr 2013 · 1.0k
on arriving in the mountains
J Arturo Apr 2013
if you only eat from a feedbin you have a limited number of grain

kafka said the leopards would become part of the ceremony but no matter how many nights like this I keep waking up with
out any wild animals
or rather, any sense of the mystical rhythm that surely guides
deviations from this steady alpine path.
today when I got off the bus in Arequipa
I realized that some people look up to the mountains, even in summer, and always see snow.  
and some people don't.
and this is the way it goes?

I dreamt South America would provide a release onto the page, and my words would set at least a dozen feet free
but the more ******* I buy the more I realize that all I strive is to feel tired
deserved or no
and to lift my head and see snow.
and some people don't.
and this is the way it goes.
Feb 2013 · 491
J Arturo Feb 2013
autumn found us in bed, hungry
and left us staring wide eyed at the ceiling
wondering for rain.

the sun tries too hard in this town, it is
so dry.
and every shower shorter, every
raincloud thinner.

sometimes I don't know what to do.

we spent six weeks
trying to bring back the flame
but oh, it would sputter
and you treated it like a child.
which one should never do.

I sent a bus for us, sent us
sent a letter by regular post
spent two weeks trying to recreate
in ink
the portrait of the rain of you of the bus stop.

I set the table for dinner
and I sit, and I stand
and I am drawn out for the winter
if it won't rain then it must burn
if it won't burn then it must rain.
Feb 2013 · 590
J Arturo Feb 2013
baby gurl
u are my world
when i look at yur curls
the stars unfurl.
i want 2 make you my gurl
fur real
the smallest of coffers
carry uncountable coins.
Dec 2012 · 512
Genesis 15:12
J Arturo Dec 2012
I used to dream we were all like little faucets
god had supplied with finite volumes of breaths
times “I love you” could be meant,
words we’d let our others read,
and always stirred up inside
just one too many deaths.

but god out grew I am still trying
his laughs he laughs and how the stones they shake.
and god is the laugh that got out
kept on laughing
is keeping me awake.

so I stopped sleep.
thursday afternoon turned it down it went off
drips drips into words I won't say
and darkness full into the smiling face of the deep.

and how and how and how the stones they shake
my rolling in His laughter and how and how
and how.

I have never seen darkness.
and where will death find me now?
Dec 2012 · 1.4k
J Arturo Dec 2012
dinner was the trees
the grass the
animals doubted our sincerity.
makeshift ring temple beneath the
mighty oaks you are a
bundle of suggestions
weakly bound in twine i could
snap you open in so many words.
(january, 2009)
Dec 2012 · 1.1k
Isaiah 14:8
J Arturo Dec 2012
Even the pine trees and the cedars of Lebanon exult over you and say, "Now that you have been laid low, no woodsman comes to cut us down."*
-Isaiah 14:8

the little bird tried to fly through the screen door and I
thought, if only there were more air out here.
if only the pines in their firm feet didn't wave your hands at me.
if only there were still water
in the creek.

they spent a week like this,
driving from port town to port town.
writing down the names of truck stops.
drawing sidewalks

with chalk.

we held hands and crossed into mexico with
tongues that flick across red lips.
we spent three weeks like this, trying to weep.
but the desert drank us up
and everything was thirsty
and everything was dry.
Dec 2012 · 669
Thucydides 2.47
J Arturo Dec 2012
I called you from costa rica, on tuesday
and you flew down the next night.
I had land, by the sea
and a great many trees
where I'd built a shed for you and me.

and with steady hands we sawed logs cut
our teeth on familiar skin
braced four footed, mild against the wind.
slept in sweat in a dark log room
and all the lilies tossed within.

and as I count your labored breaths, I
know now I should have never left.
but there was spice in the air and you spoke a dead tongue
and you loved me and loved me and loved me and I run.

and I said,
I want you to know you are my eyes
and anything I see without you
isn't seen at all.

and you said,
maybe we will starve here, in arms
hold nothing. spent. keep on giving.

and I said,
and maybe we will die here, in arms

when you
fail to stay alive
you must

keep on living.
Nov 2012 · 3.1k
sweat less
J Arturo Nov 2012

Maria and Mr. Riner are sitting on my bed
******* like garlands, against the wall
the words stew inside and I can't seem to
pour them out
but we three fools, sit and scribble regardless
staring blankly at the drooling clock
(persistent, in our memories).
the whitewashed cinderblocks are testament
to the number of walls
the quantity of clocks
this series of chairs
and if we close out eyes we expect to
wake up in heaven
but it's just the same old hell.

she says, keep writing
(if you feel inclined)
and slides her back into mine
but I've got no more letters in these fists
(so I'll lie and think for a bit).

she says,
I've never been a 'she' before...


my coat sits in a bundle near the door
I've been trying to find a way to hang it
but I'm having mixed results, in fact
all this month I've been trying to make attachments
to these white,
cinder block walls
with all manner of adhesives.
but these nightly sessions
have been ******* with the humidity

and every morning something new is on the floor.

all I can do is put them back up again.
try and
be a little more constant
with these climate fluctuations.
try and

sleep a little more, sweat a little less.
Nov 2012 · 3.7k
J Arturo Nov 2012
they called it a lake home because there were
no knobs only latches
with padlocks for winter.

it was spring when I left.

the water was in the arroyo
when colorado raised her snowy head
above the hills and brush of northern new mexico.

and you wept
with tears strange to me as yellow flowers
in the canyons and flatlands, laughing for water.

the truck broke down just south of Los Lunas
the smoke and steam drawn off by a fierce wind
that drove the tumbleweeds to

new lowlands. eager with seeds.
Nov 2012 · 5.5k
Any sister
J Arturo Nov 2012
everything dries up this time of year
driving into the wind I cried for four hours
but the desert air drank the water from my face, from my lips:
brittle sacks, experiments in evaporation

candy bar wrappers blow around the backseat
courtesy of these broken windows-- impractically high speeds
I don't know whose trash this is
I've been driving with a ghost

shouting at it, in the vacant passenger seat
all the things I'd never spoken
(for I swore you could read eyes)
but illiterate you saw only reflected stars

trying to find yourself in the Pleiades

all you knew of love was mythology
all I knew-- diesel gas, freon, points on maps
you read nothing in my vacant looks
I saw nothing in your ancient texts

a translation problem. little less.
Nov 2012 · 1.6k
Psalm 51:3
J Arturo Nov 2012
The littlest things are all your skin
tape wrapped around my glasses
when I pull it off it bleeds
the seven stitches you fixed my shirt pocket
it ripped again and screamed
all we've got are ironically high speeds.

I swore you belonged to the Pleiades
uncertain which sister—
so you ask why you never earned a home
in the seven portraits beside my bed:

if even scraps of skin around here whisper
I'm sick with fear
for what it might have said.

A twelve-step program for growing up and growing over
I will till the dust you kicked up and drove away
plant poppies to fill the space
the progress where I scream at the sky
stand obscene before the sun
I will grow over you this place
there will be flowers when I'm done.
Nov 2012 · 5.3k
Back to Canada
J Arturo Nov 2012
waiting for some white winged fantasy to fall
from the sky, landing half dead before my feet
and lead me away
to caves
back to morocco
to long tombs where chilled in our cartilage we could
await dawn.
tired from numbers, tired with names
all I ever muster is to sleep, warm and alone
wishing to be cold again
wishing for winter, to know dark without end
wishing to watch the city lights from the reservoir
churning through cigarettes, heads hung
and sunrise on hooks.
Nov 2012 · 5.8k
There is a fire season
J Arturo Nov 2012
in june I felt the project change
from trying charting all scenarios of your face
to looking to books to blacking out spontaneous lines in found papers
to clearly eventually
be a misneglected omen of your impending collapse.

"I would like to blame this on the weather,"
I said to the sky,
"I would like to stay."

I felt the camera flash stop taking
strobe light moments of our strobe light moments
instead slipped tape recorder in your cereal box
videotaped the tooth brush
ever scraping dead skin while you slept.

I said, "If you wake up I will know nothing."
if you call this a dream, I will shake
and shake.
I said "it is clear now that you are decomposing."
(there's only so much the heart can take.)

stopped thoughts about the bus would hit you
spent time watching the sun through your palm:
little bones will scatter light.
little scars on thumbs.
we are made up only of who puts us back together.
and I could smell the rain.

I said, "It is easier if you stay angry"
I said to the sky.
"I would like to stay."

I put the Starbucks mug on the radiator
ceased to chart your worried looks.
I knew your brow, heavy clouds as you'd undress
but made a scrapbook of frozen dinner clippings
drew a line through where you went that day.

I said, "I want to prove that you meant nothing"
I said to the sky.
"I would like to stay."
I said to the sky.

and then the rain.
Nov 2012 · 4.5k
Isaiah 1:19
J Arturo Nov 2012
If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;*
-Isaiah 1:19

You left your hair long in the hopes some
Jersey-eyed boy would braid flowers into it
Mark you with sequins and well written post
And treat you like a
Better than most.

But there was no way of predicting the air, up here
The dry dusk crackles with static and you know your head's a mess
but there is always the summer always monsoon season always
The way your little hands would break what they could not bend.

and all the eyes are on you now but they are desert eyes
And only in dark rooms. And only at night.
And they hold your hair back as you

And leave you reaching for the light.

And when the summer comes you are brittle brittle
Cakes baked in hot sun
and your hands have fought so many battles and
So many battles and
little hands they come undone.

and to you you are the only one.

— The End —