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Intending to begin at the billowing page, the flesh calls back its bulls, the divers arrange themselves, occur as gods (loa) occur: that is pliant, beds of mushrooms (pendentives), intersected by light.

Think of the bardo as forty-one or 2,700 intersecting tiles. The mosaic has a fundamentally Caribbean soul. The under-flesh of a fugue, of cosmic background radiation. A treasure of static is blossoming there. Her wallet is blank, which is incidental. This is the context in which Ayida treasures. This is also the context in which childhood attempts to recur. 

Avoid nail head, inset, mouths. Avoid the participle and bread-winning verb. Avoid collusion. 

Avoid bulls deranged, fearless in the streets. 

Avoid flagstones, re-instatements. Avoid vendetta

An ocean plucks one, two, three, five, seven feathers from its flank—hands them to you. They are intended to highlight sound. With them, you fall back into the life of a painter. 

You work construction: Remember that at six in the afternoon February is not accountable to anything, remember the favorable time, the field (namesake). Leviathan in the heart’s salud disminuida. A peacock stands in the street, shakes out its crest of freshwater. The animus of childhood in the end 

gets whatever it wants from us; it is not an uncanny burden or dusty crop. 


your name in strawberry leaves. 

One red mouth traveling. 

Pentacles like lunettes open through the walls. 


Speed and seeing are the only requisites
to positioning oneself in tradition

or catching rhythm 
bare-chested, youthful …  


Our binary heritage does not turn anachronistically, but skillfully through watersheds of fear. Laughter credits us with binary code the color of olives, soil the color of olives. Possession and transformation take place over months or in the time it takes to eat a meal. Tissue threaded across certain occupations: military, police, prison, illness. Compassion trims the moon until it is unseen. 


The eye is present if the rain is out: 
threatens to bend not only reeds 

but pitch, guitar, eggs of the macaw. 
Not just the river but the shadow the river travels. 


I know what it means to burn a bed with lights still startled in it. Know when five or seven stars are made clear. Sir Stanley Spencer saw pillows of water. Velázquez saw a lakewater eye rising into itself. 


I think the bacchanals of the vision are left to sunflowers. 

Plaster of aching and fucking 

cartels of life

the meat stinks, the vowels are infirm. 

The vowels wear dark halos, of which they are ashamed.

I sat beauty in the mud and drank her

the structure of ransom 

beside corn fields

unanticipated weather fell. 


this Louis XIV crest I wear 
to insinuate my youth 
among deadly company 

& the soul goes on up the mountain …
& the poem’s sex cruise

everyone on the beach should 
take their bottoms off it’s
Dionysian it’s 


not smoking glass at dawn but something 
men running sweat bands of light surrounding them 
sun      pure body     blistering word

the vultures, blond fins beneath their wings

the sun in tiers … 

a spell of black balloons      vanity    up 
spruce your balloons up 
spread those balloons
across heaven,
offset that meringue 


“so the bullet that found its way into Roque Dalton’s forehead 
took its pajama bottoms off 
scratched its upper arms felt ashamed
before settling into the worst sleep 
in the history of El Salvador …” 


with your lovingly razor-thin feelers,
mr. mosquito
cleaning the trapdoor lashes of the I 


the pig emptied, strung up, 
smells like wild rain


no fun no longer 
now the redheads
now I know 
what Mann was talking about 
& Szymborska
& why Marianne Moore wearing that silly smile beside that pony 
was in fact Satanic 


Consider: these Botticellis their rough hyper-masculine proto-schizophrenic features, or that the thunder does not have wrists 


you’re   close: 

hustle       hustle

devise       devise 


a mask of pearl
at the ox-tail banquet of probability … 
daylight does not apologize but undresses that fear 


the cock pecks at human dreams, 
causes drops of blood to flow 


eating souse in London:
I watched the sun
walk in its black wave, 
wash dirt from its hooves, 
exit the river 


synthesis of an accurate city—
         softened eyes

with increasing interest you watch the stars 


the shadow of a stone pushed, 
flat as an abdomen, beneath the sun 


steps an egret, 
a lash of time in consciousness 


opening the doors 
of the senses,

saw Glory

like a bull 


if I were a girl

I would be hymnal 

if I were a woman

I would be pithy 

if I were a husband

I would be a touch-sensitive lamp

if I were a widow

I would uncross turnstiles

if I were a virgin

I would clip energy from fear

if I were a master

I would plant time 

if I were a maze

I would wear a prettier dress

if I were a guitar placed in sunlight 

I would close my hole 

Ayida is jealous of the snow 

or—the herons and I are blending under searchlights


a vèvè travels across the walls 
& our Rimbauds burning $7 bills 


at 7 p.m. in 
wildflower summer:

a city inverted and strung 
with balloons the color of hospice,

a sea of friends …  


as vocables are stones entire, stone’s wholeness, so the wind 

pushes back my name 

in my hand, stark, with which I carve a whorl 


say grey carnations threaten skin
& the soul, a fountain through which carnations fall 


that money is fierce and grows on trees

that the hyena is the only other animal that laughs

that a honeyed crucifixion has courage

that the wind commissions horse-hair sofas

that I dust the cushions out, their flame-retardant thickness 


I drew myself up 
hell smells like shit
in the pines
a centipede, 
a tonsured drunk, 
librium, terraces and wrath 


our enemies 
in Sophoclean Emirates 
& heavy business cards spraying
from Valentino suits 


show us what to do when crystals inhabit us 


the bright meat of the lights
the hard-foam life vests flaking red
the clusters of red grapefruit
the facades like blown loa 


as a pearl Ferrari approximates 
the angel of history, 
so our mourners shy off 
into flatness and ice 


the day undoes its belts and we have seen
what others have not necessarily wanted to see:

the shells, intricately folded, 
of hunger

of history: 

a rhesus, 
like Brando in an aspirin tree

Hart Crane surfacing, 
wrapped in a Haitian flag 


purple cloud
paper us a will, an instant
of numbing ointment along the gums 


tomorrow beauty shifts its name,
swallows landscapes,
rivers  … 

the seams vanishing across that discourse 


and the rows of claw retracting in the eye 

Robert Fernandez is the author of the poetry volumes We Are Pharaoh and Pink Reef (both Canarium) and the cotranslator of the forthcoming Azure (Wesleyan), poems by Stéphane Mallarmé.