Because everyone around us is dying,
I’d like to see what Minnesota feels like
and narrate it to my brother Guillermo
who dwells in Florida, among sixth
graders and sun-bleached strip malls,
the crumbling bones of old St. Pete,
but tonight is just like any other night
and that’s why I’m in the kitchen,
alone over crullers and an ashy cup,
writing this poem about the uses
for a new heart in a cuneiform script
buried on the banks of the river Over There,
buried beneath a childhood in Caracas,
and then in the damp evergreen forests
of the Northwest. One of my many Americas
is here in this manual, this dizygotic reckoning
because though we’ve never met, Guillo
and I have a certain sameness of bone. Neither
of us has ever been to Minnesota, nor
been best man at some random Latino’s wedding
and because our kin are all dispersed
our words commingled Jenga blocks
in the permanent 1970s radio fuzz that looks
like smoke. It’s something we build together,
through remembered songs and new translations
if I’m lying strike me down if I’m lying down
pick me up and hand a brown hand here,
is something I said once, full of acid and harsh light.
But Minnesota is just a place on a flat map
I’m driving to in a car I don’t own. I’m fighting
upward because what is it like to be 45 years old
and estranged from the stand of trees, the mud
daubing wasps, the prosperous crows, dropping
their shit on dappled lawns, because my friend
and I are anti-suicide machines. To be alive
in this, the most beautiful atrocity, is to be mortal
and aware of children, of corrugations and ministrations,
to render unto GOD JESUS nothing because we
don’t believe in GOD JESUS but we believe
in me. We don’t believe in me.
In a long-buried dream we are boys of 8 and 10
in a long and windy corridor, waves of papery flora
brushing our legs and Led Zeppelin is not a thing that exists,
and for that I am thankful. There are throngs
of old people, abuelos and abuelitas, over
the next hill, drinking beer from brown
stubby bottles, held in their brown stubby
hands. But it’s only a rustling
of papers, the hum of the Frigidaire,
and we’re back on the tracks, rusty and unmovable.
Guillo, pack me a sandwich, fill it with greens,
converge on the corner of Barrister and Locust,
so we can make it mean a thing. Make it mean
a thing. Things like the Great Fucking Lakes
things if repeated enough become bright seeing,
become Minnesotan and brimming
with Scandinavian fury.
What loves were you
thinking of when you entered each mark
into the automated system and pressed submit?
What time is now? Look at the brains about us,
all aflurry with dance music and svelte ligatures
making one thing almost touch this poem on the uses
of a new fabric, dyed with canary feather and goldenrod,
this hay-colored parabola in a car with crooked
license plates. We are having tacos with vikings
on the banks of several bodies of water.
We are old.
We can’t kill ourselves on slabs. We’re feeling
enchanted, there are clouds, there’s a light,
and a wall, stark with our outlines in chalk,
sandblasted, and when the zombie gets on the radio,
says “send more cops,” that’s where we are
but we, the long-buried and now renovated
with bionics are still here, waiting
to be called back to day which is now actually
night and to be called back to nightmares
which are actually patchy buck-toothed horses
in this kitchen office. Guillermo has a thing
pasted to his chest and it is bigger than a heart.
Press this red button. Play Kid Charlemagne.
Anthony Robinson is a founding editor of the poetry journal The Canary and has published poems in Verse, Gulf Coast, Quarterly West, ZYZZYVA, Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. He lives and writes in rural Oregon.
Image: “Last Caress” by Nicole Monroe