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Two Poems

Anthony Aguero

First Time in Los Angeles

For the first time I was with you,

in your green-light, with Lewis 

and the man who died 

just last year from an O.D.—

he had the widest smile —

I was in the throes of your long arms

arming me for what could come next.

Then when what came next 

was the long voyage to a bathhouse 

with its moody lighting and snarls 

and glares saying Come, come 

with me soon, here, to this room.

I would come to them,

all of themselves disarmed 

and glowing and naked. 

When that wasn’t enough, my golden

givings and kisses and touches,

you wanted to leave me untouched

in my fleshy-robe and alone

at the bottom of a blue-stillness.

They dragged a body out of there

one year and it wasn’t my body 

in the closed mouth of the infinite.

I’m still here, nowadays, clothed,

a little time longer, remembering 

the rude act of sleeplessness 

and the scent of silicon on flesh 

and the scent of flesh on flesh 

threading a hole through me, us,

or anyone that would lean in and 

just listen. Are you listening? 

I’m still listening and listening 

under the kerosene lamplight 

of consequence and taking notes

warming up to the heart’s hundred doubts.

Passing Through McArthur Park

Peonies paint the gardens and I can still smell my sweat. 

The meth not fully out of myself, myself still not

fully out of myself, and I’m laughing, I’m walking

straight ahead. Curse the day the addiction began,

which begets the question Which came first?

Curse the day I prop a pillow under my back for man.

No, no. Curse the day I couldn’t explain the question 

Well, why did you start in the first place? bringing us

back to Which came first? I’m walking straight ahead 

and everything in Los Angeles is lusciously green

I could mouth-out and gnaw on it. Nobody wants 

to touch me in rehab and that may have to do with rules 

or the detox is still happening, or the soul is still inverting 

itself from a few years exiled in a beautiful desert.

The man in the street corner wants to absolve me.

The man from a few months ago, in a moody room,

also wants to absolve me but in a way that’s self-serving,

but I want to say both these acts are leading me past 

defeat, meaning, I wanted saving and didn’t know how.

Nothing quite blooms under my tongue like it used to,

blame the drugs, blame the hand jerking the blade,

blame the mouth for opening itself at the wrong time

on a wrong day passing through a park with a song 

sung after it. The peonies are still beautiful though,

and call it calm or clairvoyance, but immaculate

keeps the thick-wind I breathe this day. I give my shirt to it.

Anthony Aguero is the author of Burnt Spoon Burnt Honey with Flower Song Press. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice and was featured in The Slowdown. His poems have been published in Carve Magazine, Rhino Poetry, Foglifter, [PANK], and elsewhere.

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