Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Our Difficult Telling—Issue 61, January 2016)

Vickie Vértiz
Four Poems

The Apparatus of Love

So wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully pretty

How did the moon get inside the living room? There was barely enough room for our bodies

When I rub your hands over the surface, the cave carvings in France feel

Like her necklace, chipped white shell, but how would she suck me?

The carvings, I’ve never seen them, but I know they’re there

Tell me a lie, chula. No, darling, not that one

There’s no see that can hold me

You know that I’d do anything for you

The carvings, I’ve never seen them, but I know they’re there

I used her telescope. It was tight and tiny

So wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully pretty

And teeming with her breath

Tell me a lie, chula. No, darling, not that one

You can’t keep trying to save everyone

But that’s how you love best

I will not be kissing any woman behind

A Blue Jay! I’m done taking care of women

Who don’t belong to me

Portrait as a Deer Hunter

And the paper makes you think this is your land

Like when I lived in Malibu—the grain surf glow

Made me think nothing was wrong, that everyone drove iridescent Lamborghinis

I’ve never been to Malibu. Today is more like summer in South Gate or

Bed Stuy. A street confettis children in cornrows and trenzas, fades and bowl cuts

They use umbrellas to shield themselves from the murder of first grade

First grade lined with meth-news.

Don’t be distracted by Supreme Court decisions

If I left my lover for the girl who smells like river rocks, within two

Hours, the batteries would run out on our rabbit-tipped vibrators

I don’t want to sit next to her on a plane, the earth leaving below, or describe to her

How blackness is not a thing, it’s nothing and therefore everything, and I’ll blow her mind

While she bites a churro. I don’t want to show her my mail-order unicorn collection

Or pick epazote leaves for quesadillas I would warm, blowing until the cheese cooled, the anchos

In the freezer, that strap-on in the closet—a typhoon

You really tried to get your boyfriend to let you have girlfriends, didn’t you?

Jacobo Zabludovsky, pry my eyes from her perfect perfect middle finger

No matter. The state won’t stop shooting, it loves against protection

The next time you lust for a doctor, show more chichi sooner

Show up to her house with a basket of alfajores, cookies on a string, though she’s already

Forgotten your last name. Did she even know how to spell your first?

Today is not the day to forget that Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

Hurled the first fists at Stonewall, that they’d been punching everything

That they’re still clawing at the sodomy of equal rights

Malcolm, remind us that we are coming home, to ignite

And, yes I will take that girl behind a Blue Jay and kiss her like I’m dying!

The time is high and I’m moving on. I’m going to be your number one

Be my woman on the bracket. Save days like halves of the hand

Let’s walk into the beautiful garage

Take me out back and show me how to shoot

Be the deer I’ve always wanted

Servicios Pleyboy

It isn’t natural, love that’s not seed

Don’t play a funeral polka and expect me not to cry

The first ten notes were lemon in my mouth sores

Lemon on my finger-cut heart-slice

Did you love him?

Yeah, fool, I did.


He punched the steering wheel—the palm of it—like he’d practiced

on someone before

This because he couldn’t find our parking ticket

Ey, fool, he’s got a bad temper. You better dump him.

Yeah, dude, I better.

And was it the onions? No. It was the drone

A dead line because he didn’t always have a cell

And did I love he was mostly phantom to chase what sweet

Remember—the gold high heels, my ass switching, back and forth, back

No AA meeting could patch his drywall holes

No AA meeting could make him stop molesting memory

It was the corn that made us cry, a modified sorrow

It’s not natural, a kernel that won’t grow

I cried into my taco again today at El Farolito

Leading me away from that dick at constant attention

The jig was up

Born on yellow hills, my pleyboy was a hard climb. A home to mispronounce

Fuck that, said my brother. There’s more people to love.

Was it the churros? No. It was the tofu as a meat option

I cried into my taco and my sailor hat almost fell off

Everybody else cried too

The cashier acting like he was wiping his nose

The taqueros let their salt steam

Was it the chile verde? No. It was that pleyboy

with sweat pants under his jeans—recovering

from a lifetime of being left alone in lettuce fields

I left him too and what I got left was al pastor

Fool, did you get my text?

Nah, ey, my shit is broken.

What made me cry was the way he rubbed his nose and lips across my back

And that I wasn’t supposed to fuck him

How long can you live in the dark before you get caught?

I cried into my taco because the red tile was rain boot dirty

No matter how hard they scrub

Everyone had to come to San Francisco escaping rape

and bullets in the mouth

And that’s why everyone cried, not because of me

Even my brother looked away, out at the street

Families dodging pock-marked addicts with no pants

The oranges piled neatly in pyramids

The bus dangling on driving electricity

Everyone dodging something, even the gabachos

They were just there for lunch, but when we cry, it’s contagious

And when one of us dies, they know

They’re next

Don’t be sad, ey, said my brother. You’ll find another fool to love.

Out of the Wreck

For Adrienne Rich

Straight  down—  A   river


Let   me   pass

I walked out and back

to the lip of the road

And when   I come     into       the room

They will love my     accent

Ask   for   my   papers

Watch     the   lights

I turn   the   city—  like   a   woman—

like   a   man,     turn—

what   can   I   say

I’m   androgyne   new

My   written   room   has   street   walk   sight,     sharpens

avenues,   under     caves,     mercy     flowers   anger

I   remind   them    That     they     failed     my   living

They’re   dead—  my   verbs   survive

Language   my   name—  the   light   straight   down—  I’ve   looked before    My   name   is   light   straight   mercy—  my   name,     my resist     My   written   room   ignites—   the   city  —sharply mist

If   they     ask,   my   name is     under     the   lids  of
  rivers, cities  ,   and   your   dead  .