I must run: walking won’t get me there.
Miles must take the place of arms; distance,
embrace. I must run, until I become air.
Conditioning is a whisper on the eyelash
of an eye that doesn’t blink,
afraid of missing seconds pass.
Conditioning is the day spent hinting:
a bee working his wings to slivers,
a life never done with communicating.
I had to run with my Mexico and Ginsberg
tucked under my whiskers, run, and sow asterisks
and metaphors where buttons had fallen off of shirts.
I must run, because all I thirst for
are syllables, and when someone says to me
no vales mierda or Latino? What’s that? I gulp, keep score.
I must run because footprints don’t last long in the sand,
and the desert is larger than people can hurt.
There are days when the sun is a moon I can’t understand.
Conditioning is words spoken, unaware
they, like cars, live broken, in need
of constant repair.
Conditioning is being told to drink only white milk
so that your skin might change; this from someone
whose skin matches yours, down to the guilt.
I must run, or else I’ll always be taking off
my hat in nice neighborhoods, smoothing down my hair,
always trying to look acceptable, but feeling off.
From Hunger Mountain Issue 22: Everyday Chimeras, which you can purchase here.
Art by Maggie Nowinski.
José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of seven chapbooks as well as the collections EVERYTHING WE THINK WE HEAR (Floricanto Press) and SMALL FIRES (Future Cycle Press). His poems, prose, and reviews have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Prairie Schooner, The Windward Review, and The Bind. He runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence and teaches English and creative writing at Linfield College.
José Angel Araguz