Cheryl Quimba and Joe Hall
Woke up. Found the mud built up to hold people and make passage. For the sun. A coyote. Very early. Asked the dead what they wanted when alive. What was perfect. I waited: An earth not swollen with vipers. An earth we do not have to cut. In one hand, the Isneg man holds up the blank face of a conquistador. In the other hand, he holds a skullcap soaked in wine. Lunch with C. And Dinner. I love her. What will happen to us? All the people here eat at a table.
We are not those people. This is later. C’s hands are bleeding. There is a necklace of lightning corroding my shoulders. I take her shoulder into my hand and let it go. I take her waist into my hand and let it go. All the people of the world.
All the people of the world.
THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH DAYS
This is how these days start. Two people saying, “This is not that. Here is right. There is not right. Here is what is right.” Like splitting wood in a wool cap. Colossus of fire and inverted technology roaming a continent’s surface. Lydia Davis as a punching bag of serpents. Student = virus interlocking with matrix of the cancer cell, spiraling outward to unlife. I live in Quarto 7. Eduardo lives in a cloud with the treads of a tank. Hanoke lives in the first pair of underpants deep beneath the earth. This is fiction: this is poetry: blah ble blah ble blah: Aimee is leaning against one white dinged counter, telling me about the situation of her Brother-In-Law’s nephew. His parents have to go to Albania for the summer but don’t want to bring him because people are restarting to kill each other. Do you send him to basketball camp in Santa Fe? Drive him to the Grand Canyon? We sit in a loose triangle of chairs half in the noon sun. Agnes is eating a big milky bowl of cereal between explaining her views on the world population, her own lack of children. Of the future she sees displacements caused by shortages, massive populations moving across the world like rain winding down a windowshield. “This is war,” she says. I look at C, expression neutralized by her sunglasses. I think of how much she wants a kid, to not be sick, to think our kid wouldn’t have her kind of sickness. Birds weave nests from trash—twist-ties, fliers, and grass. With thrusts of their breasts they push into the right shape the nest, their shit, egg fragments, down. Someone collects several of these nests and puts them in a bath of water, caustic agents, turning them to pulp for paper. That person withdraws their hands from the bath. Their hands are hurt and red. That is true. This is true. Come cut me in the name of art. Come labor for the improvements. Come drone and surveillance. Come copyright and patent. Come pull Adrian down from the house frame in McPherson Square. Come drive past the hunger strikers at the gate. Come wheel Adrian into a police van. Come rightness and law. Come bill after bill trying to maintain your body until you take any job it breaks your body. Come definition. Come vote. Come description after description. Come time passing eroding the rock of intention, so much chalk as long as everything is right. As long as it is very right and knows it is right. O rightness! O fireworks, O unfolding contrails from the cannon, twists—blooms, pinwheels chorded blue noise fleshing the darkness as if permanent daylight were breaking through the other side of its shell. O the sun is cleft. O sand is blowing through the fences. O holiday, how good you are to me.
It could be like this – the myth sustaining us. In the morning, we wash and dress and walk out with new feet. Without your sleeve at my side, I am lost. An ark is painted on my coffee mug, and I sip until the morning is gone. It could be just like this.
Cheryl Quimba is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Purdue University. Her poems have appeared in Dusie, Phoebe, Tinfish, Everyday Genius, and 1913 She lives in Buffalo, New York with the poet, Joe Hall.