you are in the diode archives winter 2011



Insomnia as Transfiguration

Because the night is a scattering of sounds—blunt
branches hurtling to the ground, a nest stir, a sigh
from someone beside me.  Because I am awake
and know that I am not on fire.  I am fine.  It’s August.

The scar on my neck, clarity—two curtains sewn.
A little door locked from the inside. 

Nothing wants anything tonight.  There are only stars
and the usual animals.  Only the fallen apple’s wine-red crush. 

Rabbits hurtle through the dark.  Little missiles. 
Little fur blossoms hiding from owls.  Nothing wants
to be in this galaxy anymore.  Everything wants the afterlife. 

Dear afterlife, my body is lopped off.   My hands
are in the carport.  My legs, in the river.  My head, of course,
in the tree awaiting sunrise.   It dreams it is the owl,
a dark-winged habit.  Then, a rabbit’s dash
to the apple, shining like nebulae.  Then the owl
scissoring the air.  The heart pumps its box of inks.  

The river’s auscultations keep pace
with my lungs.  Blame the ear for its attention.  Blame
the body for not wanting to let go, but once a thing moves
it can’t help it.  There is only instinct, that living “yes.” 


Wolf  Boy

The moon dangles from its severe, black cord
and packets of dew thicken the grass tips.

Everything is blue—the meadow ripe with leaves
blown from the periphery. Instinct

threads the skin of the boy as he strips, the tufts of fur
splintering through his cotton T-shirt and the deer

are startled into their sinewy gait. Hollow sounds.
A cry from the chest where the hunger lives.

The boy will enter the new world through his eye
tonight, afraid of his flushed skin. The blood

rising like the cherry-red tip of a cigarette
pulled towards the mouth with each deep breath.

But he is even more afraid of the dark space of memory—
a flash of speed, wind on his face from some dream,

and the cooled, coppery taste pressed against
his tongue and the roof of his mouth.

The wild is fierce with memory. And his ears
tilt to the soft pad of his paws against the village cobbles

and the darkened cottages whose roofs blossom
with potential accident.  To be one with accident

as to be one with god. To be god is to love
the sudden solitude of night

when the sleeves of the once-body yields
to the muzzle’s soft kiss and the wet nap of a licked

burr, nestled into a muddy coat.  Oh, meadow, meadow.
How the moon’s beautiful swell nails everything into place:

the tooth’s glory plunged deep into the evening’s bruise.
The throat, heavy with a hound’s velvet “no.”  


Oliver de la Paz is the author of three collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2001, 2007), and Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010), winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada. He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Asian American Poetry. A recipient of a NYFA Fellowship Award and a GAP Grant from Artist Trust, his work has appeared in journals like The Southern Review Virginia Quarterly Review, North American Review, Tin House, Chattahoochee Review, and in anthologies such as Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation. He teaches at Western Washington University.