Once I was immortal,
condemned to endless mornings,
empty of the knowledge
of manmade rituals.
Until out of my mouth that knows
―came the shape I was seeking.
Now I want to be
a waterfall of hummingbirds
covering our bodies.
Sometimes I read you
under another twilight.
In that half-light
your voice is different.
When you open your wings
you do not look like yourself
but I know that it’s you.
I exist to be conquered.
I, set against all other I’s,
am a stillborn poem
about your pagan beliefs.
Sergio A. Ortiz is the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. 2nd place in the 2016 Ramón Ataz Annual Poetry Competition sponsored by Alaire publishing house. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.
A conveyor belt delivers mutton and fowl.
Hot meringues suffer and collapse
under my ruthless fork.
His breath tripped over words stuck between his teeth
and tongue as sinewy shoulders curved.
The child stood, small, shivering in her tattered brown coat,
a dented, scuffed brown suitcase gripped in her hand.
mushrooms, beets, carrots, cabbage,
uncle’s ashen face.
Light drips on the handle of our cups.
Mine is dark blue, hand
Crafted by a lady I met
Once, in Kentucky. It’s filled
With Camomile tea. No sugar.
You sometimes wonder about
Pangea, the supercontinent
that existed 300 million years
I miss driving with you at
night, sometime past safe,
our lips still wet with
When he had finished writing, and crossing out
and standing and rewriting, and looking
out his window, and feeling the sun
I stood and watched you sleeping, had
stood there watching for nearly five minutes in
the shadow of the
hallway for nearly five minutes of circus
time before I dropped your purse on the chair, quiet as death
If I could, I’d use
my recently purchased cell phone
to call the pay phone outside
the community swimming pool
in Fairview Park, Normal, Illinois,
that summer when I was eleven,
and the country 200.
It was the night we were told we couldn’t pretend we were Catholic.
The priest turned only toward you and said, “It’s between you and God.”
And you cried.