Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Poetry By James Diaz

James Diaz is the founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared in Cheap Pop Lit, Ditch, HIV Here & Now, Foliate Oak, Pismire, Chronogram and My Favorite Bullet. His first book of poems, This Someone I Call Stranger, is forthcoming from Indolent Books (2017) He lives in upstate New York.

Cut Your Path Through The Night Like A Troubadour On Fire

the light

other things

a war is only
people second guessing

a body
can tell
if you're lying

the best stories
are never written

they sit
alone on bar-stools
thinking of home

trying to pinpoint
that moment
where things took
a wrong turn

is there enough
love here?

what is 
the atomic weight
of a memory?

do words care
what happens
to us when we
can't find the
right ones?

there are people
who find themselves 
well loved

cared for

and there are those
whose wounds wont close
who leave blood on the car seat
and can't catch 
a ride home
to save their life

we are loved
a little at a time
in portions
in what a person can stand

people can't stand much.

Poet James Diaz

In The Next Life You Are Unrecognizable

Where the word in you
came apart
and laughter
was the cruelest sound

you say no one
is spared
but sometimes 
you have been
when no one
including yourself
was looking

midnight stretched its fingers
around your throat
like a father
you couldn't outrun

the space where your silence
searched for its counterpart
a stifled scream building its muscle
in the dark

who knows
how much life
may come 
your way

when you least expect anything
when you are most beaten

the softest touch

the one that never happens.

Thousand Yard Stare, on the inside

Move this burn
a little

any place the sun touches
scar lines follow

a haunting 
is all of those things
you left unsaid

ghosts in the halls 
of your voice

what pain brought you here?

did you really think no one would notice
how un-intact-
how broken you are?

This Boy's Life 

Put yourself in your own shoes for once
pull at the sky like it was mother on fire
I mean lover on acid
which version do you prefer
the one where it will all be alright
or the one where we all die in the end

I had something for you
but you never showed up
and I go places too you know
back and forth
I've been in handcuffs
I've had the rough stuff
people have been afraid to get too close
and when they did I surprised them by being gentle

I have a low, girlish voice 
but the hell in my stomach 
would stillborn your life too
here's a short list:
blood on the wall,
mace in the eyes and down my throat
straight jacket
thorazine injections
tied to a board and left on the floor drooling
leg smashed by a mother, age 7
father dipped his bloody hand in my glass of water
and I watched all that red swivel as I it poured down the drain
family feud shoot out at age 9, 
told to get down on the floor while the inbreeds brandished rifles
out on the highway

you have no idea what you're capable of surviving until you do

loss works against us 

and there is no guarantee
any of us has what it takes.

Secrets & Hallway Trash

The man down the hall is picking up trash
by the elevator
and singing to his sweet Ida
dead now for eighteen years

Thomas tells him it's creeping out the new residents
but all he ever says is “what can I say, I'm in love”

I'm smoking on the fire escape
thinking of Kentucky jails 
after midnight
the dice and the heat of the room
piss and sweat and no way out
the boy who blew his fathers face clear off
with a double barrel
the heated fights over fruit juice with the family killer 
that's how I learned to never back down
by crossing eyes with murderers 
and coming away with the good stuff

“sweet, sweet Ida” lingers down the hall
against the smoke of the wallpaper
you can hear his shaky hands holding him steady
and the sad beautiful blues of that man
makes me want to cry all night long

maybe getting old won't be so bad
just maybe.

This Aloe, This Burn

body bending
the slant of 
shattered light

I never understood
what to do with myself

these wild
inner weeds
choking growth

if air existed
I never had
any of it
in my lungs

I couldn't even say
I love you
without a crack
opening up my face
like an atomic memory
held under water
till it confesses

I did those things

I suffered
laid out on highways
at 2 am
throat sucker
full of rage
cutting in
and out 
of this damaged skin

how do you do it,
live this broken
from the start?

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