soon we’ll be people again

by Raquel Salas Rivera

Raquel Salas Rivera

west philly summer 2018

so hot you want to
shave your eyebrows group ice
in a sock

and break the slick
off the glass

pour out the air that’s trapped
in all the cupboards called stores distance
the drinks from faucets divvy up the water

ride waves of some glimpsed
hell scarred backwards into its
opposing linger

you come down cussing out the sun
spitting up red through the light
leveling out the rage

hot so

you dip your face in icecream pools lap
up the cracks

ant corpses littering playgrounds dying
dried-out on jungle gyms half
crossed sliding
into dead sparrows

hot enough to harbor a grudge
head out to sea to show
up at the wrong door with a timber and a fuck you

when you see a mail truck and think

it’s a whale

carcass holding in leagues
of carved out faces you imagine ghosts

grooming plastic plants
daliesquescapes into brick-hunting insoles and
every corner store waves
a white flag called we sell ice summer is
a luxury season


going to hold it down block by
block the earworm that sweats
into sputtering a desire to spit at

every white question
every nice house with a.c. clean lawns sprinkled
dreams of buyé out in the open

i’m not from here so gimme a minute
to remember streams enough to make do locking

into the overture a chipped-toothed sun laughing
through a heavy cloud still

hot but could be rain and
stuck in a noon dodging
in to buy our way through degrees
of lessening sudden cut

and honk of a delivery gone awry from festered
flashes of a memory tank barging wood

sinister in its splintering age should be
better than metal but
only the fireflies know we
mean to leave this planet

until someone brings water

you can’t decide if beer is
what we need just to numb through yellow

discus thrown out into the trash heavens
as if we were cursed
to live this out until we can heal it or
repay winter we tremble

in thirst
as if wishing a downpour from our
bodies out into
the symmetry of water just above the road

seeing things
seething things or

broken on hubs in a park
promising relief tree-ridden
sick with green heavy onwards

trapping mosquitoes against thighs
a sacrifice for night

saying bring it down into
the insole of a bold-faced lie called
we’re cool

not today
or ever
again going to be a cold bone between us sarcophagi

we call litmus of all other hatreds the belly of the earth
much better the pig in the mud of this body cooling off
in a shade
rasping its skin off on the bark

until breaking into the flesh
of it ray by ray
the divided seconds
of day of it
unsustainable and fountain-bound

heading into the fray
holding on by dear cube shirt high or”off into the shrubs

packing corners with unused lengths

i say soon we’ll be people again i promise

we’ll order in and return
to mimicking survival to our slow declines

and handheld hopes sort of not
knowing how to wield them but still battling away

from wrist flicking out gesturing at
waterfalls pools

icebergs melted into things we can eat
or drink or dribble as if talking
but really what i say is soon we’ll be people again

and no one is listening from however we aren’t
ice arrests the usual called making it matter hot
in cages
in el yunque bald-headed
across the beach of my past stretched out

my body of water
my mountainous descent into the city
and the coast of a city hit by rivers where
swimming is ill-advised
secretly thinking

we’ll be better
than the people we were
better than summer
we’ll be scattered showers
we’ll be sun-down and broken
a headstone struck by its own force
rivulets across its cracked face
taking us over

Last updated November 07, 2022