My Heart

By Rane Arroyo 1954–2010 Rane Arroyo
“Do it,” yells the man across the street to his motorcycle.
We each meet the day in our own way.
The aquarium with three unspent goldfish buzzes.
Three flies are flying.
Coffee, traceable to dark, wet trees in Central America, cools.
The black cat on my lap hates poetry, even the sound of it being typed.
My skull and the falling stars sing back and forth the songs of magnets
              in heat.
A car with a broken muffler hums along, mumbling answers to questions
              I haven’t shaped yet.
What is a life?
Stacks of typing paper wait to be darkened, dented.
On my white wall a photograph of the poet James Galvin
(cut out from the American Poetry Review).
Sometimes I want to be:
 
              1.  an American
              2.  a poet
              3.  reviewed
 
James looks like a farmboy (Iowa, Iowa, you have more poets than
              scarecrows these fuse-lit days).
How carelessly James sits back on his hips, staring into the camera’s eye.
(Imprisoned inside there is the last surviving Cyclops),
and I think of W. C. W.’s lines:
 
               the beauty of / terrible faces.
 
When my face opens like James’s, it is a year later, years later.
Some life is gone.
Only poems remain.
Perhaps a poem that a magazine wanted to publish before it folded
               (“folded,” the flight of such a word).
And so the poem is stuck on a roll without a player piano.
Imagination insists on saving its works as a poem, a tattoo, a quilt, an
              essay, or an aside, like this one:
 
                                       LOVE’S CHILLY NIGHT
 
                        an angel’s cold hand
                        irons leaves into
                        this flat romance
 
                        colors distract us
                        from stems rotting
                        under our own feet
 
                        an angel burdens
                        our night with
                        its little laughs
 
                        as a derisive white
                        moon freezes
                        far from a fire
 
Even as I type this my coffee is cold; the peasants who picked the beans are
               sleeping; bottles of erasing fluids await their inevitable moments.
I lose this moment.
I’m dancing in the rain with a witch from San Carlos: Botta—is it you?
Her red skirt turns like one solid year of sunsets.
I almost catch her, but I’m back to this moment.
Just in time to send you, my friends, another telegram.
Here, Wordsworth’s worthy words.
 
               (I know I will have to bear their cost.)
 
               CLING (STOP) TOGETHER (STOP) IN (STOP)
                            ONE (STOP) SOCIETY (STOP)
                                            RANE (STOP)
 
BUT THE WORDS WON’T STOP and what do I owe?
 
On my desk: a dictionary.
All mine, my mine.
 
Words like “lacrimator” wait for me,
             lak re mat ar
which means:
 
             1.  the lake really matters
             2.  the lilac reddens into matters of the air
             3.  the lack of the red mats in the attic
 
YES!
All of the above and below.
 
One of the flies has landed on a photograph of me hiding behind
             Japanese fans.
I stare at the fly staring at the me who no longer exists.
I will not exist soon.
I’m here, behind the typewriter.
Men don’t split into new personae at the command of flashes.
 
We can become fleshless though, like the skeletons in Mexican
             cathedrals, guardians of empty confessionals.
In my room, I stare into a smaller box:
 
             “a brooding young man embraces
             a golden girl whose blue dress
 
             has the words ‘forget Xanadu’
             stitched into it while dice without
 
             numbers float in the air suspended
             between a far Heaven and a near Earth
 
             as a black spider crawls toward
             the blind moon. A gray feather’s
 
             sleep on a blackening hill is
             a hint of uncompleted journeys”
 
My neighbor comes home on his slow, red motorcycle and enters this
             poem again.
The miles hum between his legs.
 
One of the flies has bitten me.
The black cat darkens all the windows by jumping sill to sill.
The goldfish haven’t lost their glitter.
At last, this is my land.
I’ve learned to speak its language:
America, I give you the power to break my heart.

Rane Arroyo, “My Heart” from The Buried Sea. Copyright © 2008 by Rane Arroyo. Reprinted by permission of The University of Arizona Press.

Source: The Buried Sea (University of Arizona Press, 2008)

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Poet Rane Arroyo 1954–2010

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Rane  Arroyo

Biography

As a gay, Puerto Rican, Midwestern poet and playwright, Rane Arroyo addressed his plurality directly in his work. “Who knows more about place than the displaced?” Arroyo said.

Arroyo was born in Chicago and received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. His poetry has been published widely by small presses. Arroyo won the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize for his 1997 collection, The Singing Shark, and the 2004 John Ciardi Poetry . . .

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SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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