A Fire that Started from Nothing

Walking home alone
confused among the chrysanthemums
I shouted aloud:          Where do we go from here?
There needs to be something,
someplace, somehow far from                         here.
Here, where the road is
littered with mottled-black
stones breaking through
or the ones that died trying—
and by trying, I should say fighting—On this particular night,
I dared myself
to think of all
the volcanos
I could’ve been.
And there are many,
so I implore you: turn              from our cities                                                 as they burn
watch our sky unhinge it jaws like a yawn. Open like a mother’s arms
after years without contact. The clouds are your mother’s
lips landing upon a swollen bruise violently-violet and hidden away.
Our sky is the color of smoke as it gets in       your eyes. Every so often
the sun saunters to the center              and bleaches everything
pinecones and needles, narratives and evidence of last night  ’s arrogance
There are many white              gay                   men
with many more opinions                    about                                                               Orlando,
but this
will happen
again. And then
they will have more to say
but what I want
to say has a memory
of its own        something
they could not
hear                 something
like happiness
that violet self
that old, ornery,
original alone.
Grey as the lip
of the lake
where tiny fish
flirt with birds
dancing the impossible-blue.
Those tiny fish were my kin. Mine. With names like the one my father gave me. A name I had
to chase down                         to write down              on papers         as they rollicked          across rivers agendas   and             state-lines                    to write this     and only you                reading it         here                                                                                                            will read it.


Roberto F. Santiago

Roberto F. Santiago received his MFA from Rutgers University, and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. He is a 2016 Community of Writers Fellow, 2015 Sarah Lawrence Fellow, 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow, the recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Poetry Prize, and his debut book of poetry was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry. Roberto writes and produces his own music, and likens himself to Tennessee Williams in a poodle skirt, Gloria Anzaldúa in culottes, and/or James Merrill in short-shorts. Currently, he works as an educator in San Francisco and lives in Oakland with a fiction writer and 15 year old cat that edits most of his poetry…whether he asks her to, or not.

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