taktil, an online literary journal

Larry Levis Reads by Ana Garza G'z

 

Poems in the same dusty lecture hall
where once 150 other students and I learned
that continents shift and seas hide
cracks in the earth.

You sit with me here
Now, where I met a man
whose hard and angled body salted my tongue and gave
my hips a mass to spread beneath, to surround,
one who would have come with me
tonight to hear this tide
of words that swell and hush

in cycles. But you’ve come because I asked,
because I know you hear
a cadence that makes me think about remembrance,
about this classroom and the body
who bared the ocean in a tongue that claims
the rise and fall of sand and heat,
in a tongue belonging to a desert
language and a desert’s Holy book,

and I imagine
that he sits beside me, repeating
unfamiliar phrases—Abyssinian cats, Midwest,
poverty
—in the folding chair you sit in,
now the seat tipped
into the back rest, the writing tray

collapsed. I spend the evening imagining
what he would have asked me—“What word

is this?”—remembering
the kind of silence I gave
him when he tasted you in me,
when I passed
into his mouth the centuries of sighing
over a skull, the cloy of churches
built from bricks and years of incense burning
through the wafers, and the walls and the chill
of a minor shrine the night I gave myself
to you instead

of him. Tonight I wish I could rest
my head against that body, hurt
myself against the line below his neck, press
my waist and elbow against the metal arm between us,

but you are here,
and you are

heat, and the memory of that skin
and sweat rolls through
me. Then

shuttering I hear him,
The man I never professed to
Loving, press me
for translation—“What word is this?”--

while Larry Levis bears the curse
of having to imagine everything.
The other listeners applaud. You stand
when I do, trapped
in a poem that ends
in a hotel on fire, my body breaking
in detail and without end, like a planet splitting
open at the base of an ocean.


The Holocaust by Ana Garza G'z

 

The radio talked about global warming
That year. Forest fires made our days
taste like ashes, but only in the breath before speech.
I know: I make my living by saying

utterances in another’s language,
so it was the year of scratching at the throat,
of the illusion of fluttering
veils against a mountain range
less than fifty miles away, of sunsets
sharp as needles pulling
orange and purple thread through white
mesh at the end of the day, and when it clotted
In fuzz at the base of my tongue, I reminded myself
That the words must be said,

That the trees and scrub
and venison must smell sweet,
to God even through the cloy of smoke
lifting, 

lifted.

That year the weather was mild,
with sixty-plus degrees in early June,
a month when the temperature should have bobbed into the hundreds,
with wind storms and chilly mornings and hot coffee
over lunch. It was seventy one week,

then suddenly one hundred ten the next.

That year, Independence Day fell
on a Friday. The air had carried ash
all week, and the evening smelled like cooking meat,
matches, gunpowder, and chlorine or disinfectant,
and across the street the neighbors called out,
“¿de los legales o de los ilegales?”
Pointing to each other and to the boxes of fireworks
with smiling devils, and their neighbors
and their neighbors’ neighbors two and three houses down
just stacked more

boxes beside silver kegs
while the stereo blasted
love songs one man wrote to other men,
and children screamed,
“I’ll burn your ass,”
with sparklers in their hands, and near their ankles
the flaming flowers they made
spun above the asphalt,
and a yard away, colored cylinders spat
fire into the overhead, the crackle
sharp as brittle timber, and mortar shells bumped
the sky and shook the sliver moon, which paled inside

 

the sun, a phantom disk, and a haze,
of matches, gunpowder, and chemicals
scorched and thickened the air where streaks burst
into mushroom clouds directly over my head,
their boom and their sizzle and their chalky, sour smoke rising
like an offering too potent to respond to
with anything other than wheezing and opening
of the lips into the immolated victim’s
“Oh.” 

 

Articulo Mortis by Ana Garza G'z

What is it that breaks 
a fall? Two hands, like Easter lilies 
on their stems, two arms 
that reach. What 
makes

a meal: the last or first, 
the one there at the tree, the taste 
of God inside the mouth—experience 
of ambrosia, sweet

as sweat? Two hands. 
like crabs, the way the fingers move, 
after the garden’s loss. They grasp 
the broody’s egg from tangles, 
like figs, from nesting boxes, 
from moving belts that slide the booty under testing 
wands. They lift them 
over countertops to crack 
into the skillet on the flames,

Where new life feeds 
or old life abstains.
Two hands, like fans that whisk the skin 
to heat, to wet, to hard, to split 
the egg; two hands, like wings 
that raise a cup, 
and from nothing, something is

drunk. How?

A human being stands 
and yammers 
with a brain that squawks for all 
the food its hands can seize.

Some falls are 
sudden, no time to reach, 
no time to catch, 
no time

to break.

Just break

From uprightness, the body crumples 
to the floor, the face as bruised as loss, 
which knocks against a Hebrew pun: 
“bear fruit”/“destruct.” The tongue and teeth poised 
for one as for the other, the scooping

fingers drawing toward the mouth 
that spits. The moment 
drops

In shock. Death begins 
Like that, without 
the hands, two stars that flicker 
in the void of sky. 
Fixed in silence, 
the mind too rocked to hear its prattle 
fall slips inside 
the spaces of the brain. Breath soughs

dry gas. The pulse displaces red--
then blue--through vessels 
thirty seconds more: four beats, two 
slow, the trick repeated 
once. Breakfast stymied as the mechanism

 brakes.

The Word so hungered finally 
exposed: milk, sliced bread, jelly 
in a bowl, a single egg, the yolk 

an eyeball in an unimagined face.

Ana Garza G'z is a community interpreter living and working in central California. some of her work can be found online, most recently in Tawdrybawdry. More of her work is forthcoming in Magnolia Journal.

Volume 1.1: Spring/Summer

Letter from the Editor

Fiction

Louis Bourgeois

Strange Fish

James H. Celestino

Heidi Floating

Andy Cerrone

          On Writing

Anonymous

          Hot Chocolate

Non-Fiction

Joel Coblenz

        Runaway Chef

Susan Hodara

          Riding Through the Sky

Sheila Squillante

American Home Cookbook

Art

Paul Shampine

      Genesis

George Shaw

      Sculptures