Poems: José Luis Álvarez Escontrela

Quechua in the metro

His Captain America shirt would never have given her away,
nor his smile
that hides behind the veil of all commuters.
However, the days bring small surprises
and she had to open her mouth to scold her son.
At that moment everything changed,
she spoke in the language of his parents
and the parents of his parents
denying everything that has been imposed on her.

She spoke
with the words that turn wagons into wet branches
and that play with fire in an ancient ritual.
His scolding felt like a short song
conjuring the arrival of the rains
that comes as the whine of the wheels against the rails
and with the click of the tongue against the palate
It resembles a broken basin, filling her mouth with splinters.

Harsh Sonnet

Forced surfaces have been built
on top of the resin built for years,
unversed feasts take place every day
in this forbidding mourning
of those who walk feet after feet.
By noon we can pick out the stranded words
that haven't been said in years
and die on top of the sidewalks
as the walkers pass by in a hurry,
like ducks by the ferries, moved
by the folding waves,
where sterile lilies born once
and die immediately with the anger
of those who haven't seen the light of day.


One hand on the handle of the briefcase
              the other loosely perched on the railing

guiding our bodies into the gutter,
              a wet yarn bough bracing the city

guided by the prophets of Novocain
              with a pill on my face as in Abel's face,

preaching those who listen to the voices
              and take Cain's rock in their hands, and

thrive above us
              as the speared guns they are, while

we sank deeper into
              the boundless string of yarns, chanting

forgotten duets
              in the surface of the ground, jaywalking 

in one direction always
              as the flies moving towards trash.

José Luis Álvarez Escontrela is a Student of Literature at the Central University of Venezuela, working in his Bachelor’s dissertation, with a Creative Writing Minor degree from the Metropolitan University and ICREA. He was part of the anthology Poets Night I of Diversidad Literaria press (Buenos Aires, 2015). His poems have appeared in Juste Milieu (June 2019) and Rigorous (July 2019). His poems will appear in MásPoesía (2019) and in Inkwell (April 2020) as the winner of the National Literature Day poem. He has published non-fiction articles for Problemon (2019).

Image: Watercolor on paper, 14&1/4" by 22&1/2", by Eric Linker, circa 1998.

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