Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How Broken is Mended

James Diaz
—Poems and Photos by James Diaz, New York



How you glowed in the night
and when I closed my eyes
I could hear the rain falling
on your skin
and I wanted to memorize the sound
so that every time it poured
I would think only of your body
and say “a storm is coming”
but really mean you

in that window booth on Bleecker St.
you were giddy like a child
and your smile sliced me open
but the wound was so wonderful
bright light against your skin
I told you that we should survey the room
like in the old west, know our exits,
our enemies,
you had been taking naked photographs
on the street corner
and people just laughed
“nothing fucking surprises them”
you said, “I mean thanks for not calling the cops,
but do we even have the capacity to be amazed anymore?”

you were leaving for California the next day
to drive a bus across America
as a tour guide

I felt like a tourist
sitting under your shadow
counting blessings
I never knew existed

I told you that you reminded me of an old soul singer
how you gave with your whole body
with everything you had
from the pit of your being
and you said “from where I'm sitting,
you're nothing but goodness”

then came that part in a film where the sad song would begin to play
but it was only us
on the corner of Bleecker and Bowery
saying goodbye for the last time
and I didn't look back
for I truly feared that I might turn into a pillar of salt
that night
if I did. 


How does the wind feel to you
right now
nestled like a snake in the weeds
your brown-blonde hair
draped on shoulder
blade whose tongue you cut
signaling star bound and north
each tiny strand
like a drug when I smell the rain
off the hem of your skirt
& new gravel swivels around the dead ends
coming through like a radio tower
toppling to its electric knees in Nebraska
a thousand channels
& you're not on a single one
but I've got your song
tattooed on the inner lining
of my skin
emergency lights blinking and so fatal
how I roll with the punches
and the drunk town boys
who, I imagine, know how to tap
into your power core just right
I'm beneath the table handing you
one-liners like: “If you lived here
you'd be homeless by now”
and the big guy circling the hors d'oeuvres
at the café art opening
strikes me as macho feral
sexual stud energy drawing you in—
& away from our tiny conversation
& Dylan's line is buzzing in my turnt-up brain
“It ain't me babe, it ain't me you're looking for.”

But oh fuck, how I wish it was.


Cut me loose

with both hands

hold the rope
and thread it through my hair

I found a new word for your green eyes
conjoined pupil paradise
puts any man down on the floor
in four seconds flat

love is what happens when you've dialed the wrong number
yet still reach the right person

a quarter of my body
and seventy-five cents of yours

what I'm trying to say is
I think we'd make a good dollar

maybe not—
but money kin
silt edged
like silk in a sand storm
searching for an unbroken cup
to overflow

your thumb is checking my pulse
in the dark movie theater
so slowly I think our skin might merge
into oncoming traffic

as we walk the streets you begin to dance
to the sounds of rap out of the back of a van
“Someone's blazing” you said

like dope in the lungs
you're stuck in the
atrium of my heart
patter pain and pistol whipped
from love sunk in muddy at the root
where I can't quite wash you off
nor really want to.



I thought of you the other night
just before my eyes went heavy
around the edges, before my breath
shallowed into its muscular
un-having, until the window
was the shape of your body
and your body was the shape
of every object in the room
this isn't about your body
as much as your body’s inner lining
all light and unexplored psychic rivers
water from water forking into itself
two bodies speaking a third
how do I say something other than
love, other than cliché,
like if I didn't know you
& we passed as strangers in the night
you would find me out
place me into your hand like a talisman
and search for my engraving
“to whom it may concern”
you move in me like rearranged molecules
magnetized against the sun
and the sum of this, the overflow
is that I don't have enough room
for your shadows at this time of night
that my eyelids can't adjust
that my heart can't take it,
and then something like sleep.


It's you that oxygenates the blood, the thump-thump, I’m in here with you, everywhere we go, places-ways we've yet to be, & when we get there the air double-takes and tears skin off our bodies, first layer, second layer, like tar from a hip roof, like hip-to-hip, shingles blown to edges of fields during the storm of the century, under my tongue your shadow is lurking against a wall, the cops have been called, there is naked energy on the loose, there is gamble & damage & clamorous howling at the peak of midnight, at the thought of leveling, of turning over and not having the right measure, the right amount of you, better not to know where longing goes when it takes a wrong turn, better to just go with the flow of time, the broken cobbled-together-from-heavy-travel road and listen to the wind sluicing through river birch and pin oak, to call not-having communion, to call having overestimation, to call any part of you, on the phone, the main line-whisper 'won't you tow this rig to safety,' won't you get out and push, let fate work the wheel, memorize the lisp of your words, the soft lyrical light of your hand against my wrist, the rough part of town of your body lit like fire when our stories are lacking depth, when you need to see for miles in the dark & no one else has a match, I'll come down from the hills with a torch & an ache & make you the biggest bonfire you've ever warmed your feet around & your stomach will growl from hunger & my hunger will growl against your stomach, thump-thump, you are so much light the darkness doesn't know what to do with you, where or when to land. 


I want to eat tacos with you in a rain storm
& hear all about your summer
hauling tourists through the bad lands
what kind of candy got you through the late nights
what kind of soda quenched your thirst
was the river bed wild when you waded in
water foam against your kneecaps
sun feral when it laid into the skin behind your ears
and when you laughed, were there any witnesses
who might have said, as I have, 'It sounded like my life
breaking open?' Did you greet each day
with those wide wild eyes, or did the day greet you
& find itself lacking, you're the best sense
of direction one can have, like a compass
time itself made when the earth first expanded
into idea and the nucleus of the world had no inclination
of just how incredible you would be, too much, not enough,
too big for your shoes, metaphors for how nothing
can contain you, for how broken is mended
every time you smile, how when you smile
there's not a person in the world who would ever want it to end,
how even if the world ended, the curl of your lips would expand
into another big bang and the second time around
would be even better than the first.


James Diaz lives somewhere in upstate New York. He is founding editor of the literary arts journal, Anti-Heroin Chic ( A few of his most recent works have appeared in HIV Here & Now, Foliate Oak, Bad Acid Laboratories and These Fragile Lilacs. Welcome to the Kitchen, James! Don’t be a stranger!


Today’s LittleNip:

Poetry is an act of peace.

—Pablo Neruda



 Be Love
—Photo by James Diaz
April is National Poetry Month!