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POETRY
Finding Logic in a Crushed Head
Roy Guzmán
Writer of the Month

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                                                 for Pilingo

It is not a fallacy that the pulpería owner who wakes up
dressed in a tunic of warriors’ pelos or the milkman

pressing his rough hands against the cow’s tectonic body
remembers the skirted boy with ovarian lipstick for a tongue,

the boy who offered a tenth of his knees to the teeth
of a country with dentures. Because I have lifted my legs

to examine what birds will leave in abandoned nests. Because
I have lifted my hands from the chests of shipwrecked men

who’ve turned the seas into inconsolable lovers with
a misguided orgasm. Or perhaps the pulpería owner—skin

brown and preternatural as an Arizona bark
scorpion on sawdust—will stop laughing one day at the boy

who, before Death settled upon his ashy limbs and his elbows
were triangulated by exile’s amplitude, helped me capture

those polysyllabic butterflies one pins, before nightfall, 
to the cruelty of one’s ambitions. The boy’s fine head rested

on the tracks before the train trampled it like masa mix rolled
with an aunt’s hands on an oven, as he tried to cross the border. 

Moths stuck to the dictionary of the pulpería slimeball’s mouth, 
as an ulcered sun rose from his dry lips. Divinatory wings

in the rusted nail geometry of a bullet hole. Our abuelas taught us
to run like blind ghosts in a backyard. My ancestors

have crimpled wooden doors with their hands, the men have,
and there is no remedio for the hummingbirds a mother casts

from an aghast mouth, the tongues gone missing—those
witnesses of railroads, carnations for the wounded. A new truth

flits among the flame anisacanthus, aquilegia, firebush, 
among the Angel’s-trumpets. My vacancies know boundless

absence. I have seen the eyes of hummingbirds blink backwards, 
when direction was once read as a declaration for agency. And, yet, 

not all milkmen can know how the wretched can live off spoilage.
Ask me where to find need. I am ringmaster of my own sinkings.

 

Originally appeared in Word Riot


Roy G. Guzmán was born in Honduras and raised in Miami, Florida. They are currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, where they also received an MFA in creative writing. Roy is a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. Their debut collection will be published by Graywolf Press in 2020. Website: roygguzman.com. Twitter: @dreamingauze.