Fall 2012, Volume 13

Poetry by Juan Carlos Reyes

fire escapes

watching us in ways never
ours, in papier-mâché echoes
sewn on ledges & rails feigning
escape         our histories a picture
perfect past fictions always
a mystery      even to me      even from
above tricks chiming over
grocer church doorways &
gross plain versions            of ourselves,

because from above, heaven’s shaky rickets
ladder fire      stairs try in      refuge pressed
cheek noses chins     tight       bars      socks
pocket butt green         stained green from
chipped bits        & rust        dangled ankles
sandals pots         lining sills summer gales
tossed petals       eyes locked morning shade
no one bade          welcome cities       a-rev
mattress gravel lots        red lights & honks,

& in sights        from above     soft parting part-
smiles swallow         rubber stick      handfuls
airy sidewalk balls        sign-         -less front
stoops & passing      banister      ahead some     months
laughing alley discard     knobs turn      alarming
paved gazes in whirring      rumble
trucks cracking concrete        knees & gutter
shelved cans wrapping wet         leaves
dime & park           stocked Lincoln skylark con-
-sumption riveting         tongues a cholera
criminology we never fled        reducing
childhoods we forget       to places abutting frozen
bed sheets         buried Styrofoam boxes        attic
suitcases nine years            running unzipped,

& in traces from above        hanging shoes perched
notebooks borrowed binding      open panes
mis-        -placed re-        -signing us assigned space
third       story crevice fresh & baked homes      mom
says twice      says again      This       This is yours now
son, this       place is yours, but      what do we tell
boys whose sold homes       bedroom corners
& ‘noleum never      shine his name never   call
his name can’t       recall his name that inter-
-changeable name      no one shouts       right twice
even       a second time coupling      apologies slipped
unwound misnomers      in pants      in drawers abetting
his laundered pants even          the wall’s spackle
leaves       deep colored prints      recollected re-
-frained      whispered      exhale         renege
with unspoken untitled portraits trust-

-ing that from above, holes      no one sees spray
painted walls       in bulky thighs     shoulders
knuckles God     lording landlord thin-     -boned
nails sharpened teeth          & feet      his dreamt
image sketched poster          & unplugged guitar
better this anything       at all       but this        this
imbibing place nature        & home that never
feels     like he can rightfully own       & so walking
upstreets & down     bricks     outnumbering fenced
gate public schools      sixth       graders find torture
in untreasured names like         rattled trains when
bus tickets         claim seats          ghosts prey war-
-ming offered tired transparent        thank-yous,

Hello Transit Authority, you have always
been kind, unselfish quarter bowlfuls on
ribbed floors inhaling the unshowered
lonely greys & castaways, thank you for
stopping, even when you didn’t have to,

& it’s from above          we’ll see ourselves
passing         in flickered strands       no one
brushes away on temples       indented
bushy spectacled skins       on buttons
right flapping & hands          stowed away
on paled fists crating       milk      & orange
yogurt & beans home       on aging     hurried
belts        unthreaded        worn & too poor
to replace      watches      a-scratched       face
proper times      mistaken      come upon raise’n
desert wrists      elbows       squints     high on
high to suns          glimmering broken
windshield praying nightly       just      cave
in tomorrow don’t        cave in tomorrow    but stay
until moons tuck everything saved          to bed.




BIO: Juan Carlos Reyes is originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador. In 2007, he received a PEN USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellowship, and his stories, poems and essays have appeared in Arcadia, Black Warrior Review, Blue Stem and The Busy Signal. He holds a Mathematics degree from New York University, and he currently teaches creative writing, literature, and composition at The University of Alabama. He has recently finished work on his first novel, A Summer's Lynching.