Kick the Heart

By Ray Gonzalez b. 1952 Ray Gonzalez
Kick in the heart.
Kick the starting lance.
Throw the ground a word and stand back.
The color of terror is the envy
on body rags, the dragonfly war
scraped off a painting inside the door.
Kick the shame.
Kick the falling dawn as fortunate.
Throw the corrupted guest out the door.
A sequence of rhythms bound for
the light on your bed.
On the eggplant cooked for the husband
working late: an ant, a hair—
the only thing said to race the mind.
Take someone else’s voice and touch their ears.
Make sure they hear you cry
in their own whispers, their harangue.
Kick the soil.
Kick the sweet drowning as if you know
the round jubilance of pear is afraid
of a darkening spoon, a honey of flavor,
the tender one who never touches your plate.
The tired one who rations food
to thank God eternity is here and there.
Slip the eye the blue-black stranger,
his instrument of scars and neglect,
its tune of every wish besides
the grave of a careless, quiet man.
Shape his sound into the thumb asking
for a ride in the years of not going anywhere.
Kick the alphabet.
Kick the hungry thigh and try again.
Reduce yourself to a moving mouth, a solemn happiness
that smells of the past, takes hold of the throat
and teaches you to despise omens—
ignore Apache mirrors on rock arches
as if you knew what their scratchings meant.
Kick the heart.
Kick the starting lance.
It moves deeper into the month of blinking neon
where vertigo is perfume, desire foaming
on your bare feet killed by frost,
taken by the animal waking inside your holy cross—
a figure of green gowns and things
that follows you until you dance.
Kick the truth.
Kick the belly until it confesses.
Admit you were fed by a woman
flapping in the wind, told to sit there by a father
who made her give birth to a shimmering head,
your brain of flowers blossoming upon
the body always first to confess.
What snow is left is tired water unmoved by your
seasonal words, your circle healing by slowing down,
swelling to the size of God,
yellow leaves in the blood nothing dangerous—
this impulse, this kick to the brittle lake
where the snow goes away.

Ray Gonzalez, “Kick the Heart” from Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by Ray Gonzalez. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems (BOA Editions Ltd., 2005)

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Poet Ray Gonzalez b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Ray  Gonzalez


Poet, essayist, and editor Ray Gonzalez was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Gonzalez’s work is inextricably linked to his Mexican ancestry and American upbringing in the deserts of the Southwest, as well as to rock n’ roll music and mid-century American poets such as Robert Bly and James Wright. A long-time professor at the University of Minnesota, Gonzalez has spoken to the importance of place in his work: “I do not have to . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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