Poetry by Ramon Arjona

by Ramon Arjona

Night prayer in conversation

Closer to God, for what that’s worth,
sullen sister and blood-mouthed girl—
conduit of unwilling divinity,

Maha-Kali, black-skinned and burned,
you drink me like a demon
these cinderblock walls coughing madness

And heat, the smoke of night too warm
for sleeping the chatter of insects in the dark
and thunder as we unfold Heaven

These things are red and insurmountable:
insomnia leads to communion, the sorrow
of untested faith reflected in your teeth.


Initiation is a bloody thing, leaving
trails of bodies like discarded glass.

When we led you tied to the bathtub,
wrists raw and eyes clotted,
we did not guess that you would
scream so loud or kick so long
with your throat cut, last words
lost in bubbles of blood that
burst at the base of your neck.

That we became the walking dead then,
those of us who remained, is a
simplicity and the necessary
price of manhood.

That we unfolded then truth from
your needful sacrifice is not
enough to justify the cuts in
your primitive skin. This finality
slaughtered us as well. That is
initiation, slaughter.

The Fourth Child of Edom

All the poems in the world could not save you.
And my circular reasons
could not prevent your elliptical loss.

Unfinished gift I will call you
where the milky souls live,
between the earth and the sky
for unnamed children never find
their own way to Heaven.

Beginning her day

Edom weeps for the death of her first child
once every morning before breakfast.
She pours her petrified tears into a silver thimble

and melts them on the stove into a clear
and bitter syrup that she pours
over her morning egg.

This numbs her teeth and tongue
and until morning of the next day she forgets
that she had a reason for weeping
or that she has wept.


© 2000 Ramon Arjona

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