Preview of Unsaid Six: Saginaw, By Tomás Laverty


I have not lived in my decade. Instead,
the sun has shone and I have missed all of it.
Something else has made my shadow.
My girlfriend never shows up.
The chicken is burned before I eat it.
I use the olive oil on my back.
I ask the maids to clean in moonlight
and I pay them extra to talk while they clean.
Out the front window, the boats on the river
float like leaves, their little fishing lines
tying them to the river. One cannot eat the fish
from the river. They were meant to be thrown back.

I have pulled the plug on my engagements
in the hopes that the afternoon’s sugary wind
will guide me to the edge of the city
where I will reflect on the failure of our factories
which are now rusty columns holding nothing up.
I don’t know what I am talking about;
it is a symptom of the city. I unwrap it
like a steamy tamale and parse through the pork and ancho.
Every Saturday, I go buy carnitas at the panaderia,
but eating the tacos doesn’t solve anything.

It doesn’t matter how fresh the tortillas are
when you are spending all the nights alone
and all the mornings are dry and involve
some form of heaving. If I get a haircut,
everyone will notice and I will have to tell them
that nothing has changed. The shadows so long
on the pavement like fishing lines from the street to the soul.
There, I said it. Can I go naked now through the city
with a curtain as my cape and a tin-foil crown?
Will you be here with me when the earthquakes come
and the city cracks in half, sinks into itself?

In the last year, the Cathedral District has burned
and gold has doubled. I made a blood oath to tell the truth
and lied throughout January.
Do you think God will forgive the bankers or redeem the bums?
Do you know what to do when the city’s gates are in flames?
Every city has a devil on a horse, macheteing and dousing and setting ablaze.
A Janjaweed occurs in every state.
Where there are ones, there are others.

Where the heart beats, it also drops like a fig in the sand,
like the slug’s shell, like a moon. The city wears us
like a wampum jacket of failed businesses and loves.
The city has used us to make a sort of inappropriate quilt.
Get out the wire-brushes and say hello to the dust;
I will hold the ladder.

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