archives spring 2008



Apology for the Muse

They mean no harm.

Birds rummaging
branches become

shadows, your home.


Sunday Morning at the Virginia Zoo

I place all small tragedies inside
the mouth of the cow.  Just behind
a row of flat teeth.  I peer at the tongue,
the poor sentinel of its four stomachs.
Emma swipes at the glazed muzzle.
I hold her back so, & we both giggle,
until she tries again, this time touching
the moist, pink nose.  She lets out a squeal.
I must be thankful to have what I have
before us, the animal shifting from its
bulk of muscled fur to an ambassador
of sadness, then joy again, reminding
how we have been marked for survival.


There Is an Edge to Each Image
                                                for Joseph Legaspi

Years after they were first set loose in Central Park,
the starlings disappear into silhouettes of gray hulls
culled together by cranes in the sleepless shipyard.

If there is an edge to each image, the light will find it,
as it finds a woman gathering her things on a bench,
overlooking this bend in the Elizabeth.  Across

the river, an evening sun fills the façade of the naval
hospital in Portsmouth with broad strokes of ochre.
The building’s vacant windows seem to her a signal

of something lost, almost futile now, a memory tugging
at her hand as if a small child.  When she remembers
the moment, it is of her son, years ago, lifted onto

a gurney so that a young coreman could sew together
a gash in the child’s foot.  It was the coreman’s first
time.  His hands shook slightly as he threaded the eye

of the bright needle with coarse, black string.  Her son
had been out roaming the neighboring woods when
a glass shard angled just so in soft mud had chosen him. 

It would be this way forever.  Oblivious, the boy lay quietly
& stared into one of the walls, gray surrounding them all,
while his mother, sitting close to him, forced herself

to become lost within the mending, within this wound. 


Jon Pineda is the author of The Translator’s Diary (New Issues, 2008), winner of the Green Rose Prize, and Birthmark (Southern Illinois, 2004), winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition.  He teaches in the low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte.