topical

By Dennis Cruz

Poem

the specter of death
smiling,
Cleopatra
uncrossing her legs.
just a small glimpse
into the infinite
then it’s over,
a bad dream
lingering
like egg yolk
or menstrual blood,
on your tongue.
I wonder what
the apostles
imagined
when they
masturbated?
I wonder
if they were
dreamt up guilty
and shameful
like everyone
else?

perhaps.

I wonder
if husbands
that stone
their wives
to death
hurl their stones
with secret
erections?

zealots
rolling their eyes
in the ecstasy
of prayer,
I wonder what
they see up there?

knowing starlight
is just as dead
as my mother’s body
or my
father’s soul.

perception
cursed by wisdom
is a heavy burden,
like love
to a prostitute
or epiphany
to a priest

but brutality
can never be
denied its beauty.
and innocence
is nothing
if not
made
to lose.

when the dogs howl
in the winter night
we assume it’s the
cold,
we assume they
are suffering,
but what if it’s
a primal
ecstasy we
subconsciously envy?

the specter of death
snickering,
a gym-coach
pedophile
ordering his boys
to shower.
the dark years,
the dark times
the dark eras
the dark and
the dark
and the dark

since time
immemorial,
since before
we could speak.
and it’s still,
all we
talk about.

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DENNIS CRUZ has been writing and performing his poetry for over 20 years. Born in Costa Rica and brought to the United States as a young boy, he inhabits the voice of the perpetual outsider and the purely American dissident. Cruz is the author of No One: Poems 2009 and Moth Wing Tea. He has been published in numerous anthologies as well as online publications including THE CHIRON REVIEW, The Nervous Breakdown, Crush Fan Zine, and Sensitive Skin Magazine. He has lectured at the USC Community Literature Initiative, the Harvard-Westlake preparatory school, as well as the LA County Jail for men and women. He was also selected as one of the newer poets to watch in 2009 by the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Public Library. He lives in Northeast Los Angeles with his wife and son.

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