Ariel Francisco


I step out into the unseasonal chill
that fills the violent space left behind,
watch the stillness of flood water

in the streets of this city reduced
to nameless shapes in darkness,
wind chimes hanging from the doorframe,

silent now in the aftermath like the hollow
bones of birds they so resemble. I tilt
back another beer until I’m looking up,

raise the bottle to my eye and blink
away a few stray drops: a crude telescope
to view the stars, blurred and imperfect

as though crafted by my own drunken hands.
Funny how they’re waiting when the sun sets
on downed power lines and ruptured transformers.

Funny how they hold no ill will towards us
for creating replacements, don’t hesitate
to return when their shoddy imitators fail.

Even dead stars give us their light.
One twinkles occasionally and I recall
looking up at the sky through the window

of my childhood room, catching the shimmer
and making a wish for another week
without school, or for the flood waters

to recede so I could play outside.
But now I know that a twinkling star is just
a satellite, another man-made thing

not quite as far away as the stars, though far enough
to see the world as a whole. Far enough
to see the hurricane somewhere out

in the Atlantic, spinning itself into nothingness,
dissipating under its own destructive power.
Far enough to see who still has electricity

and who doesn’t, and yet far enough to not see
me standing in my doorway. Far enough
to not see itself reflected in the water. I toss

the bottle into the flooded street, watch
the ripples, the way the movement makes
the stars reflections waver, twinkle,

all becoming satellites, watchers, until a new
flickering catches my eye,
a glow emerging from the storefront

of a fortune teller across the street: candles being lit,
one after another, and soon I can make out
the silhouette of a woman shuffling tarot cards

on a tabletop, their worn out edges slapping one another
with the silence of leaves drifting down
from rattled branches to rain-soaked pavement

again and again, as if waiting for something
or someone, the candle wax melting into puddles.
I wade across the flooded street and knock

against the window, press both palms against the glass:
one to show I have nothing with which to pay,
the other for her to read anyway.


                  For Robert Bly

How can the mind fail to recognize itself?
Through the plane’s oval window: a harbor
bites into the mainland like a great blue dragon.
Heavy whiteness douses the landscape, forces
it to forget what it looks like, what it is. Pin-
pricks of car headlights like cinder drifting
through the world, the remains of a once great
fire; dull azure of frozen lakes, visible in
shapeless patches beneath the falling snow,
the sound of it settling on the iced surface—
the echoing nothingness of erasure.


Ariel Francisco is a Miami poet currently completing his MFA at Florida International University where he is assistant editor of Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. He is also a former Poet in Decadence at Gramps Bar in Wynwood. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Duende, Jai-Alai Magazine, Portland Review, Print-Oriented Bastards, Tupelo Quarterly, Washington Square, and elsewhere.