VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Alex Z. Salinas

Hispanic sonnet, or The burbs

Back then, I was insane. At a New Year’s party

Smoked a Cuban cigar with a retired elevator

Mechanic who not a year later slashed his throat

In his backyard. His wife worked for the 

Chicago Blackhawks, flashed a championship 

Ring the size of a humble penthouse. Their 

Porchlights from mid-century basked us in primary 

Colors. Fireflies burned in oblivion. The man

Left me a pit-stained undershirt he’d worn to cheer

Da Bears. Was reading Pet Cemetery when I

Heard the news & knew thecity was an oven &

Evil convalesced in theburbs. This isn’t a 

Metaphor for Hell on Earth. This isn’t a South

Texas ghost story. It’s a PSA: Retirees, we

Admire you so. If you need an ear, hugs, just ask.

Hispanic sonnet, or Invisible wire

I tell kids, I say, You don’t write to change

The world, you write to change yourself.

Occasionally I wish upon them the wasp-sting of

200 rejections. Occasionally I’m mean-spirited 

As such. But after 200 nos, 200 unfortunatelys, 

I’m adeptly immune to the consequences of wrong 

Words for the wrong magazines. That’s all it is:

Semantics. The dance of matching your flavors with

Other suitable tastebuds. This last clause I must rephrase 

Into a pertinent, politically correct message for kids. 

So many people would rather play it safe. 

From the comfort of my sofa, these lines land on

This page safely. If I’m being candid, I’d surmise I’ve 

Played it as safe as anybody straddling an invisible wire. 

Quit playin’

Tell the truth

Spit the

News 

Abhor you all

Love you

Too 

Break it up

Tear it

Apart

Worship long the

Figures of

Books

Dump every-

Thing &

Die 

Don’t do it

Do it

Do do it 

It’ll come

Worry not

Relax & chill

Sit straight

Sophisticate

Tremendous class

Howl inside 

Ham on Rye in-

Side my knapsack 

Cannibal Beats 

Devouring poorly aged

Sheets 

These lines ate 3 hours be-

Tween 3 peerless mid-June 

Childhood nights on repeat

Don’t let them see you

Sweat, Papa said,

Said Richard Ford

I wanted to be a 

Sportswriter until I

Met real reporters

Wished to write till

Poetry baptized me &

Nothing’s substantial any-

More, more, more

There, there, there

No there there, Miss Stein

Miss you more

My, how you lie 

Why, off you go, far away 

Hey, knock-knock— …

Knock-knock— …

(—play this game all goddamned day!)

Raft

Craft

Raft

Drifting 

Sink 

Only stay quiet while my mind remembers

The beauty of fire from the beauty of embers

John Masefield 

As read by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Is it possible poetry died then?

Cardiac arrest—stroke of midnight

Me, a babe in a league of ghouls

“Gh”: ghastly start for English words

Give it to ghosts, too 

Especially those refusing to give themselves up

Craft is a raft,

In other words (a phrase my dead professor detested)

Poet, hast thee memorized poems lately?

Can thee perform thy scribblings well?

The raft is disappearing 

Tugged into a horizon where the world hungers

Take it back

Poetry dies with me tonight

This city, embers watching through fog.

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