Issue 6 / Poetry

Poetry by John Arias

Tres recuerdos en verso



The Legendary Children


we are all snakes

devouring and being

devoured by those who

remind us we are human





there is no perigee where we’re standing

but if there is such a thing as

witchcraft, use it now

before I leave without saying your name



The Amiable Children


at our wakes speak to us

in Spanglish and try to remember

if we were smiling when we

last sipped our own names





TV Tag

eenie, meenie, miney, mo

catch a tiger by its toe


we’d have screamed too

if not for our child games

that didn’t really require screaming


time had elapsed more slowly

like a summer’s day when the sun

marches groggily up to bed at 9


we ran like chickens with our

heads cut off

chasing after each other like foxes

bright red-orange, black, and brown faces


“Rocko’s Modern Life!”

“Saved By the Bell!”

“Hey Arnold!”


the projects in the setting sun’s light

towering over us like the Hanging Gardens

of Babylon

waiting for a deserved strike of lighting


but instead of gardens,

terraces with hanged tennis shoes and

makeshift grills for private cookouts

and games of Spades


we’d heard the cry from the corner

muffled, masculine, desperate not to show any pain at all

even though its source lay on the asphalt

the color of volcanic obsidian


the Guardian Angels came too late

distracted by a crackhead who’d played

“Wade in the Water” on his pipe like a flute


the setting sun coagulated the blood from the knife wound

like an egg fried on the sidewalk at midday

black asphalt, black skin, black blood

his pair of Jordans still crimson, though


we’d all been caught

when we’d least expected it


1, 2, 3

get off my father’s apple tree


but the ice cream truck was coming

playing our favorite song, enticing us

promising us cold lips and bubblegum eyes


“Spongebob Squarepants!”

“Powerpuff Girls!”

“Are You Afraid of the Dark!”


with our brains freezed and knees dirtied

we started again


just in time to miss the body

being hauled away like trash on Saturdays


if he hollers, let him go

eenie, meenie, miney, mo



John Manuel Arias is a gay, Costa Rican / Uruguayan poet and crepe-maker raised in a DC ghetto when it was the murder capital. His poems have appeared in the Rogue Agent Journal, Rust + Moth, Red Paint Hill, the After Happy Hour Review and others. His debut collection of poetry, “¡I’D RATHER SINK–!” is forthcoming from Red Paint Hill Publishing in 2017. He currently lives in San José, Costa Rica with his grandmother and four ghosts. Selected by Dawn Lundy Martin.

Image © Spixey via Flickr Creative Commons.