Vol XXIV, To the Last Mark by Jospeh A. W. Quintela


To the Last Mark


The Birth of Kerepakupai Merú

She drew diagonally on horizon. As if by dividing vision she might divide a world. 2 realms. 1 ruled by dirt. 1 by air. A sliver of other in each. She wrote me in the world above. Inky swirls that lured light to cloud. A flash. I fell. Abandoned to muck & held beneath. Days passed before the tremulous earth released me. Wandering, I carved through root & stone. Then found her. Shard of blue on brown & green. I leapt.



Prelude to a Stubbed Toe

Rioting. You kick the curb. A futile gesture. It feels good. Like August love. Hot. Sultry. Dying. A star flinging layers before collapse. Anything to buzz. Anything to escape the lurking void. Playing soul Jenga. The Hopi have but two tenses. One that exists. One that hasn't yet. Yesterday and today exist. But tomorrow hasn't. You? You’ve only one. Tomorrow. Which you can't reach. That's why you kick. Mute. Rioting.





If An Assumption Must Be Made, Then Let It Be Me

The room is filled with the waiting. The waiting are filled with the room. This inverse relationship isn’t surprising. Every dream is a palindrome. Our day is just a guess. You must see. I’ve thrown lightning from the heavens. I’ve stood beneath the world for many years. I’ve glanced in mirrors & glimpsed the girl I should’ve been. A number is called. I look at my ticker tape. It isn’t mine. And yet my turn has come.




Breath metes the flight of time from his brow. The quiver of a lidded eye as she recesses from the dream. All that’s dreamed has also been said, he whispers in flux. The air is cold. Cycled through a unit fixed to the wall. In its filter are voices: a child building castles in sand, the ruins of a young man lapped away by the waves. He pulls the curtain. Sun riots on his lips as his eyes lift and she jags into light.



Untitled (3 December 2009 - 3:35pm)

Get the water hot. Searing hot. So it cooks dry skin to bonito flakes. Caught in the drain. 1 part yours. 2 part mine. 3 parts the commingled slough of our frenetic prayer. Steam rising in a flock. Me hiding in wings. You hiding on TV. The anchor prattles on. Sexting. Climate change. A tremble morphed into a half moon laugh. I know the laugh. It smirks. Says despising the world makes me love you more. But it doesn't.



Rhapsody On a Microcosm

I've longed for you since Monday. Which by my standards of longing is eternity. You sigh. My life held in the confines of your exhaled breath. I lied. I've longed for you since June. Which is long enough to know I can't go on like this. Spread like jam on stale days. You take me to your teeth. I underestimated. I've longed for you since, drunk, the world hiccupped into being. Long enough to sober up. You fix a drink.



Advice to One Who Would Knock

An eye in the door. First closed. Then slit. Then cast into the light. Glaring at the room. Into the cartographic jag and echo slung cauldron of an eviscerated heart. Leap or swim. The choice is yours but choose before the osmotic stream of dust drifts from abandoned floorboards to frame the specter. Eyes gouged. Accusing. It is you. Shouting in the tongue of crow. Cataloging sins. But the door is open. Step through.



War (Mistakenly Titled Kitchen Scene)

Call it bird watching. That's what Jimmy calls it. Same idea. The lucky glimpse something rare. Haunting. With a voice like a glitter dipped sledgehammer. Or call it surgery. That's what Joe calls it. Fingers don't tremble. Plies flesh from bone as if wielding a scalpel. So call it pissing steel. That's Tony. Odd. But one hell of a mothafucka. Yeah. Call it anything really. Anything but that. That might spoil dinner.





Glasgow Smile

The door shuts and I slump against it. Heart drumming softly on wood. Weight of my sweat arching downward along counterbalances of concrete and steel that sway in the breeze. I’m braced. As though on the far side of the door there is a battering ram. An army. A lit throng. Breath catches as my clothes spontaneously unravel. Wind to floor. Soon. A willow stands among Technicolor worms. And only then. Do you look away.




On a Sweltering Day in June,

A tired man melts into the shimmering cloak of a glass clad edifice. He’s gone rogue. Prospecting for life amongst cracks in the asphalt. Weeds will thrive in our denial. Breed at the junctions of dirt and sweat. In the shadow lands the sky is a false witness. When the man’s body floats to the top of the East River there will be no outcry. The sun will drum two fitful fingers on his bloated shoulder. But that is all.




To You, Who Once Fished Upon the Aral Sea

The Aral Sea is almost gone and I do not know where to go to find it. In fact, I knew little of it before I heard it was almost gone. So, like a friend’s dead friend, it’s difficult to mourn. But it isn’t. That’s an excuse. It’s I who blew dandelion seeds into the garden. Guilt flowers. I close my eyes and dream of a ship rusting on the desert waves as you howl from the deck, tongue scraped, your cheeks full of sand.




Jack Hitches One Last Ride (21 October 1969)

Yellow toothed. You lie. Spine straight on the asphalt bed. Sleepless. Knowing that any toss or turn may land a limb beneath a hurtling bus. Reading destiny on scrambled metal plates. Waiting. Spot lit. Interrogated. Until four eyes recast into an infinity mirror. But no stop. Just a door thrust open. A vise grip on a steel semicolon. A deistic fit of gymnastics. And you in the passenger seat. Grinning like a madman.





The Last Thing He Remembered

It is here. I’m waiting for the bus when three words suddenly appear. It's probably those first three words, but an odd thing happens when I notice how the sun glints off her eyes in an ad plastered to the steel skin, how her lashes pierce into my side, how the glance rends even pavement, pulling light down in an inebriated embrace. “Who’d drink at a time like this?” I wonder idly to myself. And swallowed, disappear.




Resurrection Scene, Threaded

At that aged hour, the night air was a bolt of velvet cloth unraveling, sliding across my face as though a movie scene. It was a movie scene. The director shouting pricked criticisms onto the set so that light folded suddenly, raveling back onto the skein of streets as jutting concrete walls loomed over us like children. They will do that. Laugh and point without a care. In the sequel, I asked to be sewn in as a kid.




The Birth of Kerepakupai Merú First published in A Prick of the Spindle.

Prelude to a Stubbed Toe First published in Writers’ Bloc.

Untitled (3 December 2009 - 3:35pm) First published in Neon

If An Assumption Must Be Made, Then Let It Be Me First published in >kill author.

War (Mistakenly Titled Kitchen Scene) First published in Neon.

Jack Hitches One Last Ride (21 October 1969) First published in >kill author.