TWO POEMS by Alfredo Aguilar

/ / Issue 14


during the fire, i thought only of closed roads—
lines of cars redirected to find another way

in or out. while the mountain above them burned,
a couple jumped into their water tank to save themselves.

i turned on every sprinkler & placed a few on the roof.
i sat on top of my house, dry terrain on all sides,

breathing the ash-rain & smoke. perhaps i should have
been more concerned. perhaps i should have packed

my letters & left. perhaps i was too cavalier.
i thought myself willing to go down with the house.

it was in fact, not bravado, but a life that did not know loss.
on an old ranch, when the stables caught fire

& there was no chance of rescuing them, all the horses
were loosened. i imagined them wild eyed & panicked.

a stampede emerging from a smoke cloud. the sound
of hooves—an unsaddled stream rushing out

in a single direction with nothing but their lives.





my eyes were bloodshot
                                   from finding spare hours
in the curve of your

                                   collar bone.
you drove me to a flight
                                   & said you hadn’t seen

a sunrise in months.
                                   the sky—a pool
of crushed hibiscus.

                                   i wanted to swim in it
with you. we were quiet
                                   the way anything that leaves

is quiet. you promised
                                   to find me
& i closed the door.

                                   parting is never
the ceremony we wish
                                   it were—someone is there

& then they’re not.
                                   i sat in a terminal
& felt the sun

                                   through large windows.
i thought of your hand
                                   squeezing mine in sleep.

how one night you turned
                                   away from me so that
i wouldn’t see you cry.

                                   & later beneath a blanket
we hummed lullabies
                                   to one another.

you placed me
                                   in a cold empty sky not
because you wanted to,

                                   but because i asked you to.