SPOTLIGHT: Motel Prayers by James Diaz

We Don’t Last, But The feeling Does

and it goes like this
as a river wrapped round
its only course
ask not why the light
has never found you
just push at the dark
like a root sensing water
and from below
you know
it goes like this

our loved ones die out like stars
but still they are hanging there in the sky
like Orion’s stitch work of time
and if not for loss,
something else

have you asked your body
where it goes
while you sleep
dream, gentle weep
have you
come here to collect
your greatest hopes
and feed them to your fears

I am telling you
we are always dancing on the edge
of everything that can’t be
stilled, gutted, explained,
or remain

but that for a while,
oh my god—
we were here
and we were burning with it:
this light

Every prayer is just a poem that’s learned how to fly

We talk nightly, you and I
no matter what death does
life does more

you are with me then
like bone beneath the earth
we are of one piece

nothing takes the pain away
and I wouldn’t want it to
I see you nodding in agreement in my mind

through a haze of stars
and all the world’s dark wonderments
it might be that that something more

we each call
a kind of heaven
is simply this:

though gone
not gone

I feel you in the earth
rising up to meet the rain
nothing kills the pain

but knowing
what we know
we still do what we do

we were never
supposed to get
the things we wanted

you can’t have them
and know them well
or maybe it’s only when they’re gone

like you are gone
but not at all
I see you nodding

that we know what was what
all we had to do
was show up

and wait for it
to become more
than it ever is

through the thick sap of dark woods
I hear you drawing near
the night clears its throat

something speaks through something
I listen
it’s all right there.

When I Was Young

I remember when
the whole of the world was a weapon
i never knew how to work it right

how i had a light in my mouth
before it all went south
and someone bore me out
of their own skin
and I was who I had always been

isn’t it true
you don’t always get to know you

my father stood in the yard like a hungry wolf
who had been spat right out of the sun
he said, son, run
there’s a highway behind us
and it’ll take you straight into the dark night of your mother
then something about the muddy river
being the best way to go

but what did I know
I was seven
star strung
along the electric wires
of heaven

I was seven
and I pressed my mouth
in the dirt
so I could test my own
against the earth’s hurt

listen, my god
smelled of buckshot
and sawdust
I was just a dangling arm
that wretched with night terrors
north of the downwind
slow cut saw mill highway

waiting for a swift flood to come
and make the three of us one

I was seven.

I was seven.

Go On, I’m Right Behind Ya

Jack can’t remember
last time Shelley laughed so hard

as the wind took up the tools
from the shed line and slung them down into the yard

the straight murmuring of winter borne
how a thing is always more than the thing it is

now it’s the river you’re lookin’ for
but fail to find

when God gets mentioned
everyone’s eye is on the door

the trailer rocks all night from the force of the wind
in the dark, proximity is the only thing that matters

you put out your hands,
feel for something solid

there’s always what’s missing
and there’s always what you make of that.


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