Two Poems by Ariel Francisco
French has no word for home.
I found Baudelaire on a street corner
near Washington Square Park for two dollars
on a flimsy table littered with orphaned books:
a faded, cracked paperback, lavender
as the lingering winter evening that draped
the skyline like a dust jacket, and small enough
to squeeze into a standard-sized envelope,
which I did, after scribbling a little note
on the inside cover to a girl back home.
She never got the book, which was in French,
and we never spoke again in any language,
though I always wondered what happened
to the book, probably lost in the dead letter office,
that mass grave of undelivered letters,
moldy packages, and illegible birthday cards.
Still, when winter arrives every year like a janitor
to sweep the fallen leaves, and I’m reminded
of what is lost, I like to imagine
a homeless man fishing my envelope
out of that dropbox on Broadway
before the mailman gets to it,
digging for Christmas cards from grandma
stuffed with cash for her favorite grandkid,
and instead finding Baudelaire.
He clutches the book with ungloved hands,
slumping down against the dropbox
in resignation, and flips it open
to my little note, which simply says
tell me, is the snow coming down
on you, too? And I imagine him looking up,
his gaze tracing the skyline until it reaches
the grey horizon, thinking of all the nowheres
to go to lay his head down tonight,
saying out loud:
Not yet, my friend. Thank goodness,
Reading Bukowski at Gramps Bar in Miami
A small stained glass lamp in the corner
gives me light to read by. The bartender
keeps refilling my glass with liquid gold
like a goddamn alchemist and the promo
girls are giving out free Jameson. My tab
is open and I don’t bother to check the time.
There’s a blonde eyeing me from across
the tottering room with her bluebird eyes
and I’m tempted to smash the little lamp
over my own head, scoop up the glass
pieces in quivering hands, and offer
them to her as the shards of my heart.
ARIEL FRANCISCO is a Miami poet currently completing his MFA at Florida International University where he is also assistant editor of Gulf Stream. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Boiler Journal, Duende, Jai-Alai Magazine, Portland Review, Print-Oriented Bastards, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere.