ISSUE  1   2   3   4   SUBMIT

from Gift & Verdict


Roberto Tejada


Not a word of my surrounding not a half-whispered
go to catch the rattled ought of a third concurrent

universe unlatched the more you wait, chalk drawn
thick of old around the marred bodies left

by the citizen squads our authorities facilitate, fail
to prosecute, guilt being therefore—quote/unquote

or so the papers—a ‘willful negligence,’ a ‘scathing
complicity’ in the bloodlust rife until ‘wolves

lower’ incite the end of illness, until the highland
collide of cricket jaguar issue running water

when physical comfort, when bodily prowess
and sovereign shape are rendered command

over the meaning of a nimbus once in sprigs
of goldenrod or Indian paintbrush, chalice

owing to rock crystal and featherwork, ivory!
carved in supple limbs, remote gazes and crusty

wounds, gold-leaf reredos in bellows pyramidal
from an organ pipe: an opulence wrought from

the nightmare of native oblation, of X-ian zeal
waged on local hands in effigies, Saint James

the Greater made in Goa and the Philippines,
or Rose of Lima, in a ministry of Indians

and slaves fallen victim to epidemic, heroically
to God and in penitential practice so extravagant

—cat claws and fish bones across her wasted
flesh—as to be the subject of ecclesiastic inquiry

into questions of faith, soundness of mind
stretched the length and breadth of his midrib

and torso in taut spasms, teeth clenched and lips
in a slather of animal darkness in time spent under

thickets, our twin intelligence a forearm and fist
in fast strokes around gleam and edge, tips

wet with each other, then deeper, to a clump
of hair and fingers guiding the back of his

head, mouth over gloss and curvature, blade
inextinguishable when too-slow a swelter released

in sounds of who, whose ah spread soaked along
his back and thighs rubbed sleek across

the wonder imperfections of form, lips abruptly
pursed to each moan pillowed by the sudden

hush of skin a spirograph, his dark upper
eyelids and lashes down his own limbs

now in aftermath-order and lucible enormity

•••

Full foreground and shortcomings of this intercourse
if our voices mattered amid this kind of predictable
thinking, institution of secrets civil-silenced
or stammered-over without filling the gaps
in an ecstatic state
of clashing
consonants when it all comes off the jack-end
behind the back-alley store-front in pull-back
sway I mean I couldn’t care less
about anybody’s private life, but it helps
explain why total incompetents, with no
knowledge of the language or society, are
running the show
which is to beg it I
know and so self-inflicted I’m creaming over these
officers of the peace, joint chiefs of staff, no longer
anyone to punish me—and so extricate myself
from the weird undertow that kept me here to
begin with in acrimony of mind
and argument, in avulsion of what I weigh
when lending you power of attorney. . .

As when a machine rises to the surface
of the present like the completion
of a past, and it’s a point of rupture
from which a legacy will emerge
in the future, an evolution as per
all the creative forces of science art and social
promise, entangled in an emerging
sphere of abstract efflorescence, a blurring
effect over these agents of change
in places
where local language is deemed
insurgent, these truant cascades
of speech repeatedly coerced into

dropping all that ornamental excess—of parse,
spell and punctuate our thoughts
into the chilly spaces of the textbook if
we are to master the brawn
of power and knowledge,
a kind of opacity through
which the various will have
difficulty passing save in other ways
to be sorry I no say this more better
when the guh-g-g-guys call me sugar or sweetheart

•••

A reverence in the order of time arises now some undersurface
into silk geometries of here therefore
observing this swerve
of lawful aim as pliant capacity curls
into what could be weeks of this unlikely touch

deserving tongue's synod plead the hereinafter
unto shores kept safe between the pages
of an ark outlive us
—escape and case in point—

render unshaven this day our cupped hands
unsure along the lilt of jaw rejoin

your collarbone | allure made
known and roseate and hollow
in the shape of lissome night

recede to surge again | my throat
moan in the fraught mind
and bodily intentions of is

this a kiss | a headswell grin of abandoned
contiguity of mouths
glide drunk with persuaded hearts'
surrendering apparel am I
watching these soft drawn
tenses of fragrant beige
or so inside your amulet anatomy

If there's no jeopardy to
these offices of the flesh
—jewel pressed against
this all-involving spot—


then it's a rapture uncertain
this company rare

and where on the horizon was it
over the summer so
numb therewith
now a winter hum
of knowing a science
something no
one need notice

if this is gift-given
or spellbound or
a thievery | else
this is dumb-struck
and falling asleep there
outside
of this rattle shall we gather
my vanguard of god
as we pleasure on
the other edge
of this election year
my luminary

in whose rogue
nation to imagine
a commonwealth
is to make impossible
any casualty
in this occurrence

•••

Sun bursting as in water beads along his lower back and inner
thigh in awe derived from looking at a hero’s naked body


| aimless drift within made visible out of squint and second
sight or gleaming eager intake of breath a mouth full


stop short of lipped exhale elliptic against heft in mine
made immediate graze of finest hair | rise and pull


of his stomach, fist-grip and temples wet this heave of flesh-
hold in terms of reach and recoil | ample bearing hesitate


and limber shift enjoyed immersion glisten | from fore-
head and sideburn down the scar of his lower angle finite these


same words over and over what a face denotes in pleasured
reference itself a silver orbit tiny pierce at his nipple roused


| thumb slick inside the hollow of my mouth | round
pressed with tongue and finger this is oil, liquid news, sway-


ed anticipation and too much reward the smell of butane
nothing hidden I’m outnumbered | every tongue in my ear


struggled sum of them in droplets distend | swell in me | this
is volume rippled mummery in advance of force poised


clutches deft in handle a weightless doubletake of a minute
the imprint my drenched face nestled in appetite and surfeit


I make mound of here his mouth a snarl an onrush ours a whole
surface impelled into fuck-yes this abundance | glow-for-me