We announced ourselves

Secure in the sinecure

Blood moved regardless

We had our identity

Our identity had our politics

Loss was altogether simple

And content driven

When a friend buried

Their child they meant

They were recently hired

Into an office setting

The little hand knew

About circulation

It was easy to interrupt

So we cut it off


The circuit to replace

The idiom

There was comfort in solidarity

Of dress and direction

Two hours of minimum wage

Might buy you one book

The loft was filled with

The bodies of wheat


The dirt was the answer

To where are you from

Being in it meant


We deserve what

We deserve

A good story we thought

And we thought often

Do not ask our opinion

If you are not already past it

When love is around

What hope is there

When it comes time to call

Our names followed

By a discretionary amount

A diagonal proof

We vetted ourselves

Checks out

Checks out

Eventually surrendered

The narrative of breaking



I yawn when I'm lonely

In expectation of what
Nose wrinkled coiffed

To human experience

When people take naps I hate them

That I can't resist the laid out
In the Christian fashion

I love my enemies
In the American fashion

I set about originating them

Inside a rack of Levi jeans
A child hides itself from

What are you going to do
To make this right

Knowing full well

You can't be forever
Akimbo a curl

In a plastic bag
Mom keeps at her chest

Some loves you just won’t understand

Until you betray them
But we are not here to make friends

We are here because
We are lost

And the world is unkind

I'm sorry

But the voice you don’t answer
Will learn your hidden place

Repeat your name

Have a deal
You cannot walk from


Write what you want

In ten years they’ll pay you

There is no future I would regret

With little luck

Direction finds the river

The river finds relief

Resting its chin

In oil and salt

Where I have given up

Leave me

Where I’m least wanted

The endowment

Of the anonymous reef

Let my skull fracture sing

As the stone sings

Fully funded

Tossed by a yellow air

Let those who keep their temples

Like thoughtful patrons

Deduct their wonder from my mouth

Stretched as I deserve

Made vaster in the jaw

Thank god for weakness

Thank god for futility

My hair will outlast me

The distance

Will outlast me

Write what you want

In ten years they’ll pay you

If not ten, twenty

If not twenty


The body never

So needed as the word

It was made

To ferry


Your hidden drawer will find you

An old friend
In a moment of weakness will find you

It is not enough to survive

But you keep at it

The rabid division of your body

Split like a childhood home
Where you least expect it

A grace you did not know
Was yours     a relief

Voiceless but steady

As a stone dragged by the tide

Majuscules a few inches of sand
You will feel its mark

Sizzle and temper
Your wrongness

The slick pulp inside you

Can almost imagine its taste

And give
On the flat tongue of your ancestors

Who even then
Could not tell

What they did

To deserve themselves

Roberto Montes

Roberto Montes is the author of I Don’t Know Do You, named one of the Best Books of 2014 by NPR. His poetry has appeared in Hyperallergic, The Volta, Guernica, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. A new chapbook, Grievances, is forthcoming from the Atlas Review TAR chapbook series.

Photograph by Christie MacLean


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