SPOTLIGHT: “All Things Beautiful Are Bent” by James Diaz

It Hurts Like Hell

The fuck is your life. Answer it.” ― Cheryl Strayed

teach me to breathe
pull tiny dots of forest green
from my palm to your palm
tell me where it is I belong

it’s sometimes heaven to be so small
you could be carried away by wind
the heat of the room
and how crowded you are now
body oh body oh body
under snowfall like ivory ghosts
fleeing their homes
at night wasted

have I lost enough
can I be broken in just the right way
so that I bend but not so low
as earth, teach me sky
and how it falls on me
like hate, you can smell gravity
under your toes, it is hard work
to be born and nobody really
knows what you’re made of

oh body oh body breaking
tear me limb from limbic
put my hunger to good use
my sex to pasture, say it rains
and I am wheelbarrow to hold
oh body oh body oh sister
this won’t be what you need
but I love you even as you bend
with wind and into silence

you break like it’s what you’re born to do

Moon Paper

“There are no maps for being in love either; plenty of clichés of course, enough to match our sum weight in archeological detritus. Enough well meaning, but fraudulent, accounts of peas tucked happily-ever-after in the pod – enough treacle about folks trying to cleave unto one another, till death do them part. But I ask you, try to wipe some of the syrup away and what could be less known, more scary? Bombs in the night? A plague on your own house? A killer at your bedside? Yes, of course.” Bia Lowe

I coupled you to the wall
there were two of us then
the rain and something about
getting clean without losing
any of our dirt, tracking mud
all over the interior
of home and outbound
brittle wind
across the river
lifting blades of grass
like thirsty bones

clouded infernos of mothers’ and fathers’
Polaroid motel 6’s draped
in honeymoon pink skyline

love is what remains after all of the shouting
it’s how two storms find their calm
inside a silence that builds up over the years
a much thicker skin
than blood contains

you look at me
and I look at you
there is something that the poem tries to get right
but misses
in this small movement of air and light
and longing

tween here and highway
and home,

laughter is the mended bone

is the story
come to its most imperfect end.

Then She says

“Kisses that telegraph bliss. Kisses that worship each concavity, each convexity. Routine kisses. The first kiss of the morning, the last at night. Stolen kisses. Kisses on the run, on the sly. Kisses as place holders, IOUs, dancing cards.” -Bia Lowe

i’ll be the floor
you be the keeper

remember how young we were
and never will be again

this happy

i dream some nights
that there are no scores to settle here
and the flame under the bed
has no name, but you hear it calling out
heart songs in the dark

coulda shoulda but you didn’t
the story is only ever beautiful because it ends

every time

Four-Chambered Heart

“The whole idea about loving truly and for real and with all you’ve got has everything to do with letting those we love see what made us. Withholding this trauma makes it bigger than it needs to be. It creates a secret you’re too beautiful to keep. Telling has a way of dispersing things. It will allow others to stand closer inside the circle of you.” -Cheryl Strayed

it happened so many times when i was young
plates crashing onto the floor
my mother could empty a cupboard
around my father’s absence
in seconds, my little body shook
i thought; i’m her hurricane
best not to show my storm

i stood still like time
and all of those things you don’t get back
they sting

a haunted house of memory
and you learn the legend early
stay clear the yard out front

I had this dream A.
you were there, and we were both real silent
around each other
as if speaking would destroy us
we were holding hands like someone had just died
we were river side, angelic, run down
counting our blessings

you lifted the star side of your face towards the sky
and pointed at the Bell’s Sparrow circling over us
I couldn’t get the words out but I wanted to tell you
how much I loved you

I heard you then deep in my brain
you don’t have to say anything, you already have

i could finally see we were nobody’s storm
we were the legend, broken
and beautiful
and our edges weren’t rough,
they were smooth.

The Notes We Played

“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It’s like the tide going out, revealing whatever’s been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.” ― Margaret Atwood

There is nothing so beautiful
it cannot crumble
like old letters in attics
like buildings with odd names
we huddle in for warmth
we do not get very far from our hauntings

we want what is golden
to grow in us
but there is scrub land
there is briar
dark and rushing rivers
we step into the mess of light
the dirty and stinking parts of us
crying out, oh, love what is broken in

the body has this little hum
and it is more than we can carry in two hands
strange offerings to silence

how it keeps us in its prayer-barrel of necessary stinging
and we are singing not to be heard but to hear
our own small voices carried off beyond us


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