Copyright ÂŠ 2014 by Silvia Bonilla All Rights Reserved
ISBN: 978-1-937739-46-1 Published by Deadly Chaps New York, NY 2014 DCs4SB|4| Cover & Book Design by Joseph A. W. Quintela http://www.deadlychaps.com ii
A N I M A L S T A R T L E D T H E M E C H A N I S M S O F L I F E
C O N T E N T S
PART ONE: The Years Shine Like Coins On A Plate....... v PART TWO: An Animal Startled By The Mechanisms Of Life................................................................................. xv PART THREE: Elegies For Herself.................................................... xxxii Gratitude.......................................................................................................... xliii Acknowledgements.................................................................................... xliv About The Author..................................................................................... xlv
P A R T
O N E
The Years Shine Like Coins On A Plate
She braids the hair sadly, quiet, often sad,
another day shows a comb full of hair. 5:00 AM: Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m inside asleep, she serves eggs on bread on china plates from Peru. Kitchen drawers slam, white candles, fish-mouthed lips mumble a prayer. Brown eyes, black eyeliner, eyebrows furrowed, won't return. She's blurred, musk smell. vi
I polish precious things, with a hand that has just learned to write on the blue-veined page. I tether a memory to the rock of a word. Carry it inside me like affection and it brushes against my lungs.
Samsonite, Registered Trademark
My mother knows what to pack and then she doesn't. My little girls? No girls. Her suitcase is a monster under the bedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;grand! I go inside it, she laughs. There are other things in there: pictures held with hair pins. her stockings inside socks. She is already levitating in the future, in the next hour. Her secret.
The new house is pink and white. At night we leave a door open for the acoustics of grief. My grandmother snores in her sleep and it sounds like a thing leaping towards my mouth. A conversation that comes tenderly, the bearer of news lurking around my orphan bed.
Mother is a picture. I escape inside the reddish glow of her Polaroid. Unleash her scarf and dark glasses. I let my gaze fall on her clavicle, throbbing in the key-hole collar of her dress. Behind her, a grove of leafless trees. I give my good doll and pull her out.
Grandma talks to her hens over a breakfast of pinched bread and milk. When they discuss the revolution she rolls on the floor, avoiding the imaginary bullet. Like everything else here, the outcomes are terminal. I stay out of her path, and watch the dimpled-foam of her arms swinging toward an absent enemy. She, El Caudillo, swells geraniums in her dress.
In the Maple-Colored Room
On the side table, a full glass drinks in the blue light of night. I imagine boys with leather fingers and eyes like pebbles. I doze in midnightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heat. My first kiss is a cut-up paper Ken I pierce with a wet tongue. The notebook under my pillow holds intentions. Like mass hymnals, like letters.
There is a bulb pigmenting, all of itâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;yellow! The chaperones arrange green-glass soda bottles and chocolates shaped like cigarettes. The boy, however awkward, is taller in the shadows. And Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m standing still, long enough to want something.
Perhaps you, too, fantasize that through the alley connecting our houses, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see me walking to you in my white uniform and Mary Janes. My breast sketched under thin cotton arrives to your brain like a season. The way a cold breeze on a hot day brings goosebumps. Your laugh startles you with what it can remember. In your message, I discovered you made a perfect O in the word our. A petite circle, a fragment away from the U and the R. There are endless inequalities in the composition of this word. Encarta translates our as: belonging to us. xiv
P A R T
T W O
An Animal Startled By The Mechanisms Of Life
Core of Words
A train over to the next borough, heat lacquers in the mouths of men. I wonder about the foulness in what I can't understand. Hearing them, subterranean, dark, spared on a bed. Words tilting toward an exhausting gestureâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;
Late at night, I wish to seize them in their awesomeness.
From the tall dark armoire I bring out, wing-clipped, the blue-jay of my bra. Ten p.m. rush, before the bliss, having committed the night, pop music tailing, dress hung out to dry. Shimmering in the bathroom curtain rod, my head is buzzing coyly, from blue moon, and reaching tribulation. All-out drawers, I look for matching panties, my hands fiddling the blue-lint and some static.
Later, the story-line I know how to tell right, jumps from the couch into willing ear, sometimes, only a lie can save me.
I go chasing after something, though not violent, brisk, touched by an electric haze. How strange the man resting on a bed like desert, his mouth a prickle pear and light, any light, nestles deep in his skin, ribs pressing breast so boldly, and I know Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sending my heart out like a dog that'll go astray but I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care, I exult with rhythm, hand like a clutch in arm pit. A small fighting gesture: my mouth to his throat.
A Place Where Gods Are Born
July chews air and gives back churn at dusk. I can see the gap in his teeth when he explains Teotihuacan, I keep my wishes in his mouth. Are you for real? He says as we settle in rough grasses. A punctured sun narrows our bodies, his fingers swaddle their winds inside me. We remember the dead, looking at the world with marvel. A panache of lights visible at a distance through the yellow eyes of dogs.
Bottles on the Porch
I learnt the practice of undressing for him, and was reborn with regrets one July night. Awoken by melancholic howling, the moonâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the orange scarf around earthly wishesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; rasped her soles on the charcoal-grained floor. Holding pouty lips and saliva.
I have the stoned teary-eyes of a horse. Window panes glazed with soot. Already corrupted, I show him my two hearts. One, a poacher's net embossed in black with the bold taste of ember. The other, a bird, effortlessly rides the wind.
The Small Cosmos
He enters and wheat-light silhouettes the room. Old noises lean on the door, an ear. Waiting has wound up inside me like a rope. You talk over my body quietly, as in some lone cemetery. This hour, my only visitor.
Loves Me Not
Thin man high amid talks big forfeited
solitary king my body ruby eyes
we're buried in a
legs countless worlds
mangled rope among us.
You are a note fingered in the dark air. Beneath you, the arpeggio of wind. I, being I, wanted to string our bones together, the way commas do words. You, being you, use words to open ducts. The wind does its part. Throws dirt, blurs with dust and sound. In this dog's house, afflicted by old age, bones sink the floors. We can't figure out the perimeter of truth when it falls. Whether its head points at you or at me. The only recognizable point is the bed in the corner.
To Teresa Wilms
Like your lover, he peels himself from me, opening his extremities the color of sand directing me into the night. Like your lover that won't stay dead, he re-exists and re-enters my poems with memories of blue mosaic and wind from Iquique. Teresa, I am not the one mutilating the centuries, it is you looking for him in my poems.
We arrive to a corner lighted by a punctured moon. At the conclusion of a drill and a truth. The stargazer and I—the night— with a million eyes to look at him. By now we should have outwitted desire. We should’ve mapped these streets like big pantheons, repressed our tongues like rambling widows. Abraded this arrogance, stuck to the roof of our mouths.
When We Were Dogs
Your back was dusk hoisting the white sheets, prancing the hallways, your voice was the startled noise of locusts songs, this house heard and nailed its door, we/were/dogs hid the bones inside lingerie drawers, marked territory while a moon outside made us back up our bodies as if for battle.
I met someone else... the words skinned until there was nothing but the symmetry of a picture on a nightstand, the illustration of how we found each other on a road of leaning trees, you spotted this girl, the unbolted ear under my scarf xxviii
quartered your wail,
love me...love me...love me, you aimed towards me as if to lick me, lick me back to health
I am in this room minus furniture, the attic window of a house minus light, minus the boy turned man on a blue pipe, and sweat that won't quick. I am in this wise adventure not achingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; I turn towards thin wings of smoke, latching to his face. As the feral horse of a weathervane overturns eye to rusted eye.
Autonomy of Thoughts
Each a tenant, they trample over who's to blame for the nostalgia in the mind like a garden of herbs. This one is good for this and that one would fix that. Thoughts walk in at all hours audible and well-spoken with lips gone drunk on Maker's Mark. They have taken bad habits bedside, borrowed and lived on thrift, crowded the back of the eyes with a memory, the front with a picture and this isn't how you mend a mind that has been muted, the mind that sees a tree and nestles. For love we all go there.
P A R T
T H R E E
Elegies For Herself
Morning to Midnight
All days die of small arrows in a little war with God. They dangle over the throat and cut off some fetal line. Despite this, God is human. A kleptomaniac of good days, aging and forgetful.
See there, he says pointing at the same ugly hours.
Too Late for Flowers
While she is not dead, the road here was of nails and inevitable. No one took blame. They said she came to them like that: odd, overlapping a stubborn look. An enemy with dark flannel eyes.
Not the Gate of Justice Just a Gate
Waiting is nothing but slate roofs and cold air coming from the mouth of God himself, persisting under her long skirt. Monday, one like any other, is a coin tossed on a wish. The fingers of a memory. But here only a man with a dog, a door crossed with a chain. She imagines myrtle and orange trees, the quadrangle rooms of The Alhambra, King Yusuf comes to mind, his large eyes and clear voice. Yusuf walking the banks of the river Darro to meet the long tresses of a woman. Was he late?
Cold now, she walks away. Listening to a hiss rolling along the sidewalks. The taste of hunger for his body slowly leaves her, her fear becoming living things.
In the examining room she maneuvers placing her fingers underneath the word. I can add to this, tossing it as if releasing a bird, correct Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s errors. She sits at the edge of the chair, the word opened at its pulpy opal chest, the temporary tenant of a sentence, bulging and inquisitive like ill eyes, it stares right back.
Living Involves a Gesture
She looks among the reds for a Homeric epic. Hers will feature spears of neon and a bar fight. Death and
the strong force of fate are waitingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Her small ambitions set on a stoop, in flames.
Compelled by a sudden loss, woe, the skilled thief, loots faith, bashes love and gutters what is left of of the churned chest. When it exhausts itself it does what woes does, slops asphalt's unbreakable-loneliness and the inch-sized hole seals behind it.
Lighting the candle, offering water, feeding a teaspoon of morphine, not to deprive. Lighting the candle, offering water, feeding a teaspoon of morphine, she asks a favor from death. Tend to the blue cloak of the page.
Beauty in the Dead
Will she say partial or unfinished? Air collects in the absence of eyes. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll weld eyelids and sew the mouth, tongue rugged under a snubbed chin. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll choose discernible clothes and place the spurs of a rosary, overhanging fingers like clipped art. Fetal qualities. What it takes to climb the crowned knoll. Finally will halt the ossified doll.
This room is dark and breeds a music of its own. My voice— numbing, hypnotic and a sign of nostalgia for passing things, like skies. This one is only a blot of ink. But what are the others? All other skies are written out. Death, too, is a sonnet I am making, and letting go of gently. Muscle, tissue, and sinking. Allowing for occasional careless thoughts and their humble labor. All I’ve revealed and yet none can know us intimately. She closes her eyes now! Waits for the familiar sounds of this room, now suddenly strange. Touch mischievously mixes her cells. She lets life go on with the wind—which owns all— Will her sadness, too, transfer? Only death persists. Proves itself by tearing up her body, perusing its own ideal of beauty. It closes her eyes beyond a shadow of a doubt. Then it buries the “she,” and next, the “I”—
G R A T I T U D E
I would like to thank Catherine Barnett for her teachings. I would like to thank Orlando White for his blurb. I would like to thank Joseph A W Quintela for edits, advice, and this opportunity. I would also like to thank my family for their encouragement.
A C K N O W L E D E M E N T S
Thanks to the editors of the following journals, in which some of these poems (or earlier versions of them) first appeared:
Leveler Poetry: "When We Were Dogs" FatCity Review: "Body" SF&D: "A Place Where Gods Are Born" Luna Luna: "Bottles on the Porch" Tupelo Press 30/30: "Morning to Midnight" "Blue Saturday"
A B O U T
T H E
A U T H O R
Silvia Bonilla has an MFA degree from the New School. This is her first chapbook. She is currently working on her first full-length manuscript.