Unspeakable ghost knowledge tapping at the back of my teeth. I hold flames to my lips, try to burn this from me, but it just rises again as steam, settles as condensation, soaks again into my skin.
I hadn’t meant to tell you a desert, but my throat was sirocco, words simmering in arid dust,
evaporating.The sandstorm of this flakes at my skin, longs to kiss the earthquake of you, until I am swallowed completely, until I am gone.
Aretha in Static (In-Between Days Suite)
where the Mass Pike hits
the New York Thruway,
Aretha breaks through
100 bands of static,
a voice to absolve the dead.
Bubblegum pop and dog-tired
classic rock dissolve
in notes, fresh and vital
as when “Chain of Fools”
insistent as thoughts
of the redhead typing
back home, the voice
that tugged me away
melted a nation between us:
a song in the static,
No name for the tesseract space between us: airport terminal affection, billowing steam in the right hand of Shiva. Communication breakdown. The swallowing of sky.
Radio band crackle: Nothing real. Everything.
My transient sibling dragged me by the ear to “Rocky Horror” and played me my first Ramones album on the way: Freedom in two-chord fury channeled through half-dead speakers.
Her vocabulary makes mine a dime-store novel and she beats me at both sides of the Bible. I learned that trick from her.
We drift—have done since we were bright young things in thrift-store clothes. Postcards from England. E-mail from the Bay. We wave across airports, pass on freeways.
Poetry gets me the eye roll. For her, I’ll say it straight: We’ve survived abandoned theaters and empty bookshops. Bottles crashed against cliff faces, broken glass slid into the ocean.
I love her for that.
Our distance is cell phone reception and dial-up modems.
There are no diminishing returns.
The heart holds all these, and more.
View from the Sandcastle’s Turret
These silica walls were never meant to be home,
but still I find myself by starlight,
hands deep in earth, tide soaking shredded clothes,
sculpting battlements of sand and eucalyptus bark,
seawater mortar, brine-drenched air drowning
the taste of this from my mouth, and still
I scratch absently at the barriers, particles
wedging beneath fingernails.
Memory: Palm at the small of her skinny back;
Fingers gently tracing the brittle bone of her,
as she curled like a question into my lap,
bit my lip, kissed the blood away,
folded herself into the shadows, gone.
Memory: Reclined on a second-hand couch,
not touching, mouthful of ocean, moonlight
caressing your face, not touching, spark of us
burned at the back of our necks, not
unfathomed whispers in the dark,
distant sea shanties; unjoyous ocean
burbling through flooded foundations,
the collapse of elaborate towers
that were never meant to last.
Victor D. Infante is the editor of the online literary journal, Radius, and the author of City of Insomnia, a poetry collection from Write Bloody Publishing. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous periodicals, including Pearl, Chiron Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Spillway, Word Riot and Dark Horizons. He's American, but used to live in England. Now he lives in NewEngland, which is less similar than you'd think.