:: Article

Five Poems

By Emma Trelles.

Miami Postal Worker Shoots Two, Kills Self

I’m braiding the mantle
where the candles tumble
when the trucks groan over the street.
I’m praying for Jesus
who’s pressing his wings
flat on his sleeve, along with U.S.
and his name, which means bless you in Spanish.

Poor Jesus,
he must have felt pretty low
dragging that gun around
all day at the bottom of his bag
his fingers kissing metal and light
bills that know his last breath before he takes it.

Did his girl bleed him first? Force him to live
without, poison his dog, fuck his brother,
smash the collection of Lladro
willed to him by his mami?
Did she grind it up beneath her pointy pumps,
sew each shard into his scalp?

I’d like a crown like that,
something that could shine and cut.

I’m done with the nothing
I’ve twined for two hours
as long as it takes
Jesus to empty his sack,
except for the gun he holds by an oak
where he kneels
when his song
floats over the street:
We are braiding
We are braiding
We are braiding this dust

Billy Bragg Rescues Us at the F.T.A.A. Protest

I thought he was Tina’s friend
the way she skipped up to him,
her ponytail swinging behind her
like a shiny propeller, like she was
on her way to a lemonade stand
at a carnival instead of running
hard from tear gas and rubber bullets.

I thought he looked like a fisherman
or one of those drunks who live
on crappy boats in the Keys,
buy their beer by the case and in the can.

But when he called to us
he raised his magic hand,
his fret-stitching hand,
each fingertip buffed and set with opals
bright enough to block the blood
shine of people beaten to the ground
but not so bright we forgot
where we were.

He slipped us his room key,
and we joined the lucky
already saved, now all of us penned
inside the penthouse of the Holiday Inn,
having a holiday with bad
bar food and highballs and the kind of laughter
you hear at funeral parlors.

The lights went out and Billy Bragg glowed.
Our shadows pieced around him.
I touched his cheek, closed my eyes for luck.

Interstate Dream Song

On the drive there, a splatter of crimson
lilies in the weave beside the blacktop,
a tangle of tupelo and sawgrass I imagine
leads to kingdoms of forgiveness, if only I could
find the doorknob, swing a square open and walk into
amnesia rain, drops shaped like doves and Pan-boys
humming and combing their beards. Of course
there would be smears of winged glitter
flying between the flame and the wick, voices
pitched at the perfect key of carnival glass.

I want to remember my dreams again.
I want to know what burrows beneath the eye.
I want to write mandolin hands and see those
two words beaded together, sky pearls, what the great
poet saw when he looked up in July and sketched
a chain of white buckets, a fit of summer

clouds glazing light and light glazing
the gutter puddles. Everything looks better in a poem,
or worse, depending on how much of the day you were able
to hoard and how much you gave and gave, and you’re running
out of time, from the past, you’ll climb into a cannon
goggles tight and ears braced for the azure boom into the future,
a still life and the absence of mirrors and blades,
a palace where the cakes are laced with berries and you
have arrived, your face smooth and tongue without doubt.


I keep asking if he’ll try and find me
after we leave this world, in the next place,
whatever shining white nothing that entails.
I ask him most after watching apocalyptic
movies where the palette is nothing
but metals and dirt, and the weak are caged,
the hero without hope but with courage,
and no one laughs, especially not the children left
to endure because that is what children do.
Will you try and meet me, even if our shapes
are smudged beyond recognition?

He tells me he doesn’t know, doesn’t know
what is next, pretending not to see the virgin
statues we’ve collected, crosses, candles lit
for scent and gratitude, but mostly to ward off
what could come along and cut us apart.
I say nothing else. I don’t know how to explain
what I really mean, although do not leave me
is close, and what would the next long jaunt be
without the smell of him tracing the sheets,
without his hands?

Churchill’s Hideaway

Thursday and it’s pure night-of-the-living-dead, garbage weeds and assorted moon-face men weaving through dumpsters, eyes sucked into sockets, hands balled, a need to clamp down on something more solid than the rusted hulks in the parking lot. I can’t resist this gravity anymore than Lot’s wife could avoid looking back, the living host always on tap, a bought and sold communion with down-and-out shrimpers, men plucking butts from the gutter, regulars needing the fix and the bands that blind our ears to the intimate echo, the I’m alone chant spinning skulls until the allotted night arrives. Then we lean back on the patio, good weed smoothing doubts, brows, the din of the living around us, pool balls clacking, matches struck, men betting on soccer and horses, pinballs belling. The solid rhythm of neon hisses from windows long sealed against light. Each week we look forward to the iced mugs, the smash of Fenders and feedback meant for hollowing heads. We salute, snub, lock arms around waists beneath old parachutes leafing the ceiling with angel-pale skins. No one cares about the needles by the toilet, the spoons cooked clean, the baggies empty of their dreaming solace. We love it here, and peel the losses from our skins like failed saints, our good eyes veiled when we leave. Let us linger in this dusted lot until the lights go out and the street men nestle in shadow, ready for sleep and a day meant for more than forgetting. I have often knitted my own amnesia here, stood outside plotting second chances and success, wondered if the oiled likeness mantling the doorway really is Churchill, eyes lizard-curious, teeth brown-ridged and biting.

Emma Trelles is the author of Little Spells, a chapbook of poems published by GOSS 183 press. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry and an arts and culture writer. Her poems and essays have appeared in publications such as New Millennium Writings, Gulf Stream, OCHO, Newsday, the Miami Herald and Latina magazine. She is the editor of MiPOesias Magazine’s American Cuban Issue, and a series editor for the Tigertail poetry annuals. In 2008, she received a Green Eyeshade Award for arts writing and was a featured author at the Miami Book Fair International. She teaches creative writing workshops at the Art Center of South Florida.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009.