diode v9n1



Bone Archipelago

before the body wore a sash of bruised gypsum, she was a fist in a crowded plaza, a din

before the kite stippled her womb with a random warning, a grackle bowed its beak through a rusted fence / flower wasps, harlequins, murmurs spilled out

it rained millstones the night she went dim / digits, ribs, the bulb where light is born / bone crimped like taffeta dresses / somewhere within those islands a name went missing

and if there had been a prayer for the levee where the body was found, it would have started with a thunderclap / a rifle would have served as the pallbearer

because her body resembled the earth, some said she wasn't alive / they forget: the earth is capable of protest, even if it is no more than a phantom

a loon nests in her navel / the kingsnakes have mistaken her fingers for rungs on a ladder

it was once a crime to steal a house, and sinister to take the house, give it back, then burn it down / yet the wall smells of lighted match / and the river bank’s long claw

someone mistook her desire to flee for a desire to sleep / someone mistook her grace for the source of the river’s unrest / yet even gusts and thrushes trespass

why is it difficult to accept how a body can be two things at once: both the winged thing and the cocoon from which the winged thing came / part falcon and part gauntlet

and if the jaw had been amnesiac, would it have been sold / and if the wrist had been pale would it had referenced a similarly pale savior in order to claim the rest of the body

at her wedding, they threw teeth in lieu of rice / fed the unwelcome army with the contents of her skull / even in tranquility, the rabid are unafraid to cannibalize

in the brush: water in a metal tub / in the brush: an unholy annihilation / a mouth speaking river seldom experiences thirst

before the body spoke, lost children followed a trail of broken thumbs / walkway of hands with their fingerprints erased

before the earth was a scabbard for the body, the body wore a dress printed with bougainvillea / and who sings the chorus of bone / and who will sing for the citizens of the mausoleum



In the tundra of the very last day
a pair of nebulized hands

twitched their telemetry of regret.

Lightning pulled itself like a pearl
necklace from under the waxy
skin. The mouth asked to be studied

and then forgotten.

I quickly unfastened a yoke from her neck.
Still, the bed held her like an eel behind glass.

Stumbling along that bundle
of concertina wire and a hospital gown,

I found a mother folding a paper cone.
Except for the thud of the rolling pin,
I’d hardly known she was there.

She begged my father to pull
the trach tube from her throat:

as easy as dislodging a leech
from wet skin. She did it herself

when we’d fallen asleep. Pretend

I'm not here, she mumbled through blue
lips. The first time I noticed how

they resembled cracked cement.

How they pointed back into the lost
compass of her eyes.

How the sound of their grating
was a map for all visible things.

I’ve never been capable of cartography.



Rattles delivered me. I was covered in mud. A nun.

I had my first meal in a diner on Closner Road:
chilaquiles, barbacoa, y chorizo con huevo.

Me tragué toda la basura. Me tragué la cocina y los carros.
Con gente o sin. My breath was holocaust.

I rumbled through laundromats. Sleeves of discarded uniforms
crawled to me. Soiled briefs, tattered bras, I accepted them.

Wilted sunflowers suckled at my breasts to become new again.

At night I slunk through black bars listening to the flim
of border patrol agents. They were bombardiers with no eyes.

I slept in a patchwork warehouse, drawing to me all neglected things.

The river changed its course, flowered through me.

Abandoned children were born in the entryway steps.
Children with crooked teeth, crinkled hair.
Children fueled by black holes. Drowned children & escapees.

I gave them my blood to drink.

I gave them my hands. They used them to pray.  


Rodney Gomez is the author of Mouth Filled with Night (Northwestern University Press, 2014), winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize, and Spine, winner of the Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize (Newfound, 2015). His poetry has appeared in various journals, including Denver QuarterlyBarrow StreetBlackbirdSalt HillDrunken Boat, and RHINO, where it won the Editors’ Prize. Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, he earned a BA from Yale and an MFA from the University of Texas – Pan American. He has been awarded residencies to the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Santa Fe Art Institute. He has also served on the board of Migrant Health Promotion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of migrants, immigrants, and related populations. He works as the transportation director at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.