Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 4



Alfredo Ocaranza González


Six Birds and a Gunshot

for Violeta Parra

for Victor Jara

I.
This bird was in a cage
until it heard the strum
of a guitar. A soft note
that cut sharp through
iron bars.
             She sang along.
And made her way to the sky.


II.
A bird flew into the water
as the sun singed her wings.
The wind laughed at her;
the soil ran away.
But the water enveloped
her in its arms and
lullabied her unconscious.

***

             Water rings.
                          Haloes
as she opened her eyes.
             Wings wet, yet
healed by watermusic
so subtle, sweet,
                 suckling. Dancing
until she flowed to the        top.


III.
He flew too high;
the falcons caught up,
made him plunge
into Chilean soil.
His feathers caked in it.
Red. Notyet blood.

He remembered singing
to the mountains, his
talons plucked at air guitars.
…He wished the falcons
hadn’t torn them from his feet.

There is no music
             here tonight.
A decrescendo never lifts off.


IV.
some birds remain
in nolight caves,
too afraid to face
the sun.

some say it is worse
to see what’s left
of us than to never
see at all.


V.
A bird bathed her feet
in the water, by the edge
of a downcast river; then
the light swallowed at her,
emerging in a cross that
grabbed at her wings like two
arms

—O Lord
    O Lord
first I lost my feathers
and then I lost my voice

until all that was left
were bubbles and then
all that is left is water


VI.
Sometime between dusk and twilight,
in the midst of war and peace,
a bluebird is singing.

“I will never love another woman
or anyone just the same.
My fingers are spinning thread.
My face is framed with crystal.
I love her
because she appeared.
And no one else ever did.”

but the gunshot arrived

and it rendered her deathless.

and it brought us to life.




In Place of Shame

             Behind the avocado tree,
next to parked trucks and faded cobblestones, pine needles spread across.
Dancing front to back amongst nature’s architecture, my back pinned against
the bark. A placid moon to set the mood; how different it is here in the dark.
             In daylight,
the stones melt off our shoes—it’s tough to tell if we have stepped on chewing gum or
softened sole. Different shades of caramel adorn large houses with synthetic lawns
so they’ll always be green like dollar bills, never mind any other note.
             Faint footsteps
and the hollow bounce of a flattened soccer ball are the only sounds of daylight,
though sometimes the windows are opened and the muffled noises of the
telenovela walk across this little corner of the world, like phantoms so tired
of running towards nothing.
             But here we are
hiding in between trees and the wavering streetlight. The darkness has
awakened the zombies and brought them out to dance—the city center is
full of sweat and alcohol, mixing with the August rain. But we’re far from that, on the street
that moves like an escalator. And we have the stars to ourselves; our own planetarium.
             In the sun,
we’re threatened by boredom,
             but the moon gives way to the wolves.
Out comes
the only car I have ever seen actually push along this street, taking in mud as it goes. Lights
flicker, cherry and blue, as you give me the kiss that could both give and take away life.
But they rip us apart and pat us down. All the broken eggshells of me spread across
the cobblestones.
             They look at us
like a crime—products of small-town boredom, experimenting with each other.
I stand as far away from your waist, though seconds ago, I was holding
it as a trophy. We walk away with our heads down and the flashing lights
dissipate. I never call out for you, never look you in the eye. I whisper in the dark
and strictly stare at my boots, trying not to trip on stones.
             You turn blue; I blush red.
                          We move—three police cars apart.
             I never walk
that street again, where streetlights
tremble as I draw near and the
leaves of the avocado trees
scream your name.



Alfredo Ocaranza González: "I am a Mexican writer who bears the influence of the Nueva canción movement that took place in mid-20th-century Latin America. This influence allows me to write based on the feeling of tenderness, but also with a penchant for social issues, progression, and a little magic. I am currently studying Literature and Gender Studies at Boise State University. My work has been featured in Impossible Archetype."




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