The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2019

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Four Sonnets on Audience

Are you there? I’m writing with more detail concerning our relationship.
Too much idea, not enough detail—in there, I think I’m caught. You take
my calls but I’ve never seen your face nor written name. You are lover, window,
mirror, void, god, and drug. You, unbound time. I, thief. I steal Frank, pick up
the phone and hear you breathing. I roll down a little with your dead
weight sinking the other edge of my bed. I waste dialogues with the albums
of my dead staring back at me, past and future, I conjure the seas.
I conjure the crying aboard a laborer’s ship my grandfather took
to Venezuela from Italy. The cold winds of the Andes hitting the ears
of my other grandfather as he flees his abusive father with his littler sister on his back.
The two brown round palms of my great-grandaunt rub and heal the injuries
of a stranger surrounded by fog, in Chiguará. You became denatured
from I the moment I heard the echo hit the wall. Nothing there,
but hands pinning words from air to a page.

Regarding the container’s accompanying thirst, why speak of it?
We don’t know why, but it’s as if sometimes the secret, if found,
of building the ugly, acceptable parts of your feeling
into composition, with tiny moving memories fluttering within it,
and patterns of soul—ulular, cacophonous tongue—and your foliage
left shed and floating, were better kept contained.

For example, there is a picture of my father holding me
in a cablecar. His expression of despondence tied to the time
the picture was taken. My father, who had been too absent
and living in Venezuela, and my mother, raising three children
alone in Lake Worth, had been called by my father
words that would never fall away from her body
moments before the picture was taken—and yet to this day
it remains:               the softest image of us.

As of recent, I started rewriting an old poem I was heavily dissatisfied with.
I was prepared to disassemble the lines from scaffolds and tie each last
bright image to another more stable wire. My poems, the clothes-
              line. The old one was pinned

on the line with a fury of pinches, corners of shirts wrinkled at
seams, a wreck of creases, and each jean, each pullover, with
beginnings of secrets sewn into them and rendered illegible.
              The old one was made by the poet in rage.

The new one was written with the tenderness of a good lie. Slight turns
from the fact, or lies, fell over the burning poet’s shoulders
like fresh water. They sounded somewhat familiar, the words, like pinches
              and fury, embedded into the new one. And the mind…

unmistakably his own, to a fault of ego—his. But what of his sense
              of reclaiming? The undeniably persisting story?

Upon discussing these ideas with D, we spoke of our different attitudes toward writing poetry.
I can’t trust myself with my poetry, he says, as soon as I see them orbiting, I move
them together to a book
. To which I say My poems keep orbiting—at one time, “god”
makes appearances into my lines on sidewalks, dogs, and dads, and guns.
At another “Desire” becomes form in another set of dreams in a blissful, searing
summer, the distances between phrases becoming longing, the parataxis leaping
as they assemble into concentrated points of heat and become a new body.
I need them as they need me for them to be made. But by the time we set away
from a dream my voice moves into another mind. Or, once I make the dads, guns,
and roads, and exile neighbor each other in the book’s spine, I can’t kill
the voices that keep speaking from them and all they want, all they are entitled to.

D says You should put that in a poem.                                        What part? I say. The part
about being unable to write a book of your poems,

                                                                                                                   he says, All that about your fear.


Francisco Márquez

Francisco Márquez is a Venezuelan poet in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Narrative, The Offing, and Bennington Review, among other publications. The recipient of grants from Letras Latinas and The Poetry Project, among others, he works at the Academy of American Poets.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2019

All Issues