The Devil’s Pleasure

July 29, 2008

The Devil’s Pleasure


The devil, you think, has lost tracked of how many negotiations he’s made. That he doesn’t need more souls of thieves, dictators, or tycoons anyway. One’s soul for a nation? You know how many times he’s heard that offer? Plenty. So you sign your name to the charming devil in a green suit. You later win a war, come home a hero and marry a beauty, ruling an empire for fifty years. Then he reappears in your room one late night as the jester. He demands your soul. Only to have you politely refuse. When he threatens to share your secret with your kingdom you beg him to reconsider. While handing you a box of matches he smiles, “If you burn your contract it’s voided. Simple.” Without moving his lips he questions if you have any clue how many underworld continents there are? When you burn your gaze past him you see old kings wading through garbage. Each careful not to drop their one box of matches.


July 19, 2008

Her nipples rise from my mouth

like how plums commit to a child’s pull,

and like a ghost stirred by appetite

I dampen my mouth, widen my lips

and clamp my teeth again against her

breast and pull.


She ruffles my collar, hauls me in

and fusses her breathing into my hair,


fingers breeze inside my shorts

slower than a postal truck on route.

When she speaks of her boyfriend

her hand digs inside the burrow of my boxers  


and she grabs my cock greedily,

because it’s out, because she can’t sink

his name properly, because guilt doesn’t

have enough momentum to stop me.  


This dirty transport of semen, condoms,

and secrecy, upsets me, such improvised

company will surely fail.   


So kiss me hot. Otherwise I’ll leave my shoes

off and exit barefoot.

Strange Passing

July 9, 2008

Your dad doesn’t care for your mother’s dream or about her ghosts. He stumbles out of bed earlier, takes his coffee black, and turns on the news: Albinos hunted in Africa for medicinal purposes. Magical beast, or so the local believe, never die but vanish. A woman in Kenya is violently sobbing as a group of men flee with her daughter’s two legs. This music is devoured into the first parody. Two deaths, you think.   


Outside sparrows erupted from the trees like a strange ovation for the passing of night. They quote English and engines, clasped palms and psalms, commutes and cell phones. It is the dialect of paraphrasing and lost. Such studies break your heart. But the language between your dad and you is much crueler. There is no choir to sing of its passing. 


You’ll take your mother’s side. There is no debate. You picture your dad’s belongings packed squarely inside large cardboard boxes with no return address. His tool shed, karaoke DVDs, and his green card are cheaper than any lost language. This ruin haunts you. So all morning the task of capturing this space courts your imagination.

Terra Firma

June 11, 2008

Even as a pillar of salt

I needed you to return

but when I found you

you were already in a freezer

and more parch then

paper torched by moonlight.


I climbed in; I held your womb, traced

what’s left of the heart, removed

the white sheet, too thin

for skin, slipped above

your chin, and swooped

my neck inside your arm,

your grip like a faulted noose arrives



I wanted to drive myself

towards you into one

final mesh of limbs

and teeth like a thunderous

down pour onto tin, snatch

fistful of hair, revive you

with my erection, I couldn’t

have you dead.        


So inside your lips I placed

my fingers, they blued into commas

like short hooks

left inside a hard field of ice,

so cold if my name


it should hold in place.



May 28, 2008

I wanted you to return

even as a pillar of salt

but when I finally found you

you were already cold,

and the white sheet

above you was lighter

than any skin should be.


So I spoiled myself, climbed

in. Looted. Crushed my cheek in

to yours. It’s all true. My hands

blued into commas like anchors

cast in deep sea,


I was a wreck, I had to drown.  


Headline: Heartbroken Taiwan man climbs into morgue freezer

A Red Light Goes Off

May 5, 2008

 after Your Lover Calls from Morocco by Helene

In this dream there is a high-watt flashlight for you. The handle says a man will take hold inside this light. The light seizes the ceiling only to mirror the ground. You aim at the door, the bed, the underwear drawer. Nothing happens. When you anchor the beam off your chin he will be just as startled as you. Without a dress you kiss with your back to a bed. This light is indeed of high intensity. However, when the battery dies so too will he. A white gown unfurls. Suddenly, you can’t distinguish the sky from sea. This is eternity. Your boyfriend begs you to remain here. Sure, it’s safer. But you prefer rowing towards the idea of trees, game, and seasons. Only question is where to start and with whom?


April 26, 2008

Most men collect wood, bricks, spring crops, soil,

then build homes and gardens. Afterwards,

they become windows and stare for months.


Domestic men collect bottles, glass and plastic,

kitchen sinks, countertops, martini to shot glasses.

They fashion rafts, life jackets, sails, and oars.

Then pray for good winds and row.


The heartbreaker steals everything,

sticks, stones, lighters, cotton, vodka and syrup,

apples, carnival tickets, hot dogs, salt, wings and flowers.

 It was the finest picnic I’d seen.  


Me, well, I’ve travelled very far

for my beloved. Collecting what I could remember,

which proved in the end, counterfeited—I  

couldn’t recognize her.


I threw a torch into my wilderness—


First it devoured the forest I planted,

then the ships with her cargo,

the cities went next.


alas the fire smoldered me.


So then who am I now?


If her skin is all honeycombs, blue silk,

and ice, then I must be an anchor,

a paw, a kerosene lamp,
someone intrigued,

if not possessed.

Flash: Meeting

April 18, 2008

Flash: A Support Group


Welcome to Flash, a private meeting for those who don’t remember dying. I’m Joseph Ileto and I’m told there’s a post office named after me. It’s made up of nine stars; Will Smith, Tom Cruise—I’m not really good at jokes, sorry. Let’s share our last recollections. I’ll go first.  It was August 10th; sunlight flirted atop schools, temples, homes. It lunged forward and outward, contact with it made you lighter. Mothers propelled out of their mini-vans and onto their front lawn with Starbucks. I was heading to my postal truck when a man interrupted me midway. He asked if I could mail some letters. Now, there’s a solar system in me.


I was covering my wounds and screaming when I arrived. The receptionist asked me to remain calm, and rightfully pointed out I was dead. I removed my hands. The blood vanished. She handed me coffee and a pen. The contract asked me to acknowledge I knew why I was here. I didn’t. The off season mug was heavy, white with red trims. In the middle a bright Christmas tree. Honestly tacky. I threw the awful mug. I stormed out into, well, after-life. Big place, I always thought it’d be a basement, closet or some small storage. I walked forty days before looking over my shoulders. I couldn’t recognize the place. Not the plantations, the railroads, or the tree with a million nooses. But I recognized the receptionist with her pen and ridiculous mug. I picked up the pen and signed off I was shot. I’ve been talking since. They even gave me the tawdry mug, see. Here hold it. It keeps me from talking. Get it. Talking mug? 


The boy takes the mug. He’s white, and a towering six feet. I’ve been helping him each week since his arrival. He slumps, head propped into his knuckles. He says in slow English that I’m the ghost. He can’t recall our encounters. His name is Chris Kinison:


I’m clearly not dead! Yesterday, Independence Day, I was hanging out at Texaco when these chinks came. Three of them in my America? No way. I yelled, “Chinks, Gooks, Fuckers; Go home!” Which is fine, cause, my best-friend; he’s half you, Filipino. They were real spooked.   Hilarious. I wouldn’t let them out. First gook comes out to reason and bam—punch. Gook two rushes in. We surround them, exchanging punches. I’m bigger so it doesn’t hurt! Gook three lunges at me with his eyes close. He’s flying like sunlight. It’s warm. There’s something wrong. Fuck, there’s blood. It’s his. It has to be. Help, I can’t push it back in. It’s leaking. Fuck. Fuck. So much—


Chris looks up, and sobs, “I was stabbed.” He tends his wound, a lonely Jupiter, on his stomach and releases. Does it again. It’s real. He tells me,” I’m not supposed to be here.”  I ask for the mug back, place my hands on his back, “I know. I shouldn’t be here either.”