Issue 2, Spring 2007



by Nanette Rayman Rivera

The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
was once the Prince of the East Hill. - Li Po

we begin as butterflies but when the State comes along, we ejaculate
through truck driver mouth, gouge like x-actos ripping cross curtains.

i’m a woman with jisms of strength, but this is too much.
fake social workers’ bark in flash-lights of sun gone acerbic,
‘cause dogs always bark in shelters, acting like the wolves
they were in past lives. we’re sickles of flame chomping
through lies, the take-away of beds & threats to undo our alchemy:

get your lips off him, girl. & you ain’t got no beautiful mind,
you crazy - sounds that grab on gargoyled buildings designed
to hide our trumpet & the mute inside. seeds you all hinder,
& my man is crazy. that’s why when he looks at me,

I blush like madrone berries. his spanish face shimmers, under-developed
negative. there’s ghosts in his skull hungry for meat. the lump
in my throat explodes into a flock of blades cold in the shower
& he cries it out—mi flor – tu eres la razón por la cual yo vivo.

the one-armed bandit woman says she’ll cut me up; stacks metal
chairs in front of the only sink. welfare sirens slip their holy box-
cutters into holes in their t-shirts where flies fly & the sun now rots
at the rim of the world. who’s the real? the butterflies or us two

homeless lovers outside the west-headed night? after my Spring fall
from Phaedra & Blanche to this non-actress whorl in numerical form,
after he tilts to smash paintings that won’t travel, he ropes me into marriage
& we’re out before the next state-funded camp. zig-zag street corners, flee

the reach of skull-capped boys. they’re up in our faces - mosquitoes
on perfumed arms. so, I say to my baby, try to sketch parabolas,
hide & lace from the fontanelle of my skull to the fontanelle of yours.

this maenad, this man start to look like something living beneath
something dead, so my baby & me we’re going back to being
butterflies returning to the second-hand stream.