Roberto Carlos Garcia


I’m listening to Vampire Weekend
on my drive home, & I wouldn’t know
what a Vampire Weekend is except
that my daughter made me a playlist
for my fortieth birthday; & I’m grateful
we listen to so much music together,
because I can’t stop dancing to this track,
track three, & I’m maybe speeding a little
thinking of how fast the years pass & come
up on you at the same time; & then I see
the biggest blackest raven you’d ever want
to see, pecking the red pulpy roadkill
of some poor beast too slow to swim life’s
wave & there’s nothing left but the strips
of its insides, & the raven’s having its fill,
& isn’t that the mystery? & if life isn’t a road
you speed down, looking periodically
in the rearview as the houses, trees, people
& places whiz by, & if life isn’t eating your
red pulpy guts at the same time as you eat
life’s indigestible flesh, dancing, singing even
to a song full of sentiment, then we’re doing it
wrong, I’m doing it wrong, & please tell me
what is more real than the peck-peck-peck
of devouring this life


This poem takes place in traffic,
the traffic of bills at a set time every month,
of people, obstacles, & the self inflicted

I went to pick up my little adjunct check,
wove through the traffic of red tape & slack

On my way home I sat in traffic
Stuck under the overpass I saw a pack of men
on the sidewalk blocking people traffic,

back & forth around a cardboard box,
like mall traffic, circulating
A man rose from the box & another took his place

I checked the clock; could I beat traffic to the bank
Everyone’s rubbernecking, we see knees & feet,
hiked above the cardboard box & a man squatting,

& then last week’s memory of a woman sulking,
(in the same chair)
looking / scanning & now she’s on the ground,
under a man who’ll stand & walk off into traffic

A father crossed the street with his daughter
to circumvent the traffic made up of clots blocking

us up or laying us down in the guts of a box;
the traffic of set bills at a set time every month

or the rumble of a lack of traffic in our guts,
or the traffic of the next fix,
or just because there’s too much traffic
& we want out

Roberto Carlos Garcia’s book, Melancolía, is available from Červená Barva Press. His poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, The New Engagement, Public Pool, Stillwater Review, Gawker, Barrelhouse, Tuesday; An Art Project, The Acentos Review, Lunch Ticket, and many others. He is founder of the cooperative press Get Fresh Books, LLC. A native New Yorker, Roberto holds an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His website is