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James Diaz: To my Poet-Kin

Image: Unsplash, downloaded ( 28.11.2021.

When all is Said and Nearly Done

And later that night, the rain

And before this; feeling the rain come on

Someone's dark meets someone's dark

And before that; all this singing down the wind

Bottles of tinder-kin blood

Poured to ground

And the way the old steady themselves

Against the young

Take their time

And time is taken

And the stories seem so important for a spell

Until no one knows anybody you used to know

No one knows you

Like yours once did

Do you know me, friend?

When I come to it

Just let me go on a while

About everything I once cared for and carried

You're lookin' at future you

And this too;

It ain't a thing you lost that ever mattered

So much as the fact that you had a thing to lose

People too,

I'm talking

What we come in on

Is but a flash of song

Storied out of bone

And ain't none of us alone

Not ever, friend.

I know you know

What I know

Feels like rain, but it pours like pain

Don't disappear before you disappear

Be here, wild and wailing.

It's all taken up on the wind

In the end.

Come Cry in My Kitchen*

this won't fix it

but then again

what will

one must see for oneself just how badly

one can burn

it all down

around the heart

are these holes left in us

by everyone

we love and cannot

save from themselves

wasn't that me, once?

And now, not saved, but here -

trust that that happens

and can happen again

you can't step in front of this

words don't stick, anger misses the mark,

tears are something but not enough -

so, surrender it is

surrender as in

flag in the ground while the bullets are still flying

as in his life must reckon with dying

and hopefully pull back

soon enough

to have had enough

with all that

I tell him he doesn't have to burn to feel alive

that he can just be whole

but he hears "hole" and is looking for the stuff to fill it with

here we are, years and years apart

letters written in a child's hand

things done, things burning

and all I can do is take in the broken beauty of him here -

alive, for a moment

that I want to last

and last and last.

*Title from a line in The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

Poem in which I could not possibly love you more

And you would tell me

To hold on

And I would say; repeat after me -

We've never been more innocent

Like rain it rolls off

In years

Mercy gone to town

In the only truck left that runs

Errands, miles, yearlight in the off star

Of mountains

Sister, this happened

To us, we were here

We wanted it all

All that we had never been given

We were owed nothing

But this beautiful roughshod rain

And the light through the window that came

When we least expected it to

And the ceiling of stars it illuminated

And how close heaven felt in a breath

A cupped hand

Water kids wandering towards whole

And howl.

For my Poet-Kin

I've been both wound and finger

and at times

I think

have lingered

too long

on unnecessary details

like the chaff of a strap

when your hands are behind your back

a friend you cannot save from his own noose

in dark a cell, or how two wrongs

don't make the night a thing you know how to find the other end of

what little I know, I fought to know

what little it is I carry on me now,

but no matter

I love the indent of where I've been

the ghost fingers of howling and don't mention it

no, you must mention it I love this skin

every numb and dangle, strip and tangle

oddly beautiful - equally abandoned

we all hate what we can't fix

but we know how to love in a hurricane

how the broken in us is holy holy holy

it's getting late now and all I know

of what little I know is

how much I love you.

About the Author: James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2016) and All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021) as well as founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic. Their work has appeared most recently in Rust + Moth, Cobra Milk and Cleaver Magazine. They currently live in upstate New York.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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