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From 'At an Angle' by Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué

you’ve seen yourself here before

a piece of paper with nothing on it

the ways you drift away

you’ve held your hand up to measure

painted drops of your memory

you think one idea you have now is useful

the most useful thought you’ve had today

but you are nervous and breathing

seems unbelievable, the opposite of expression

but you are supposed to write something down

pour distracted glances as hot metal into a mold

let a doctor show you your blindsight

the village swimming on candle wax

your time in this room is, to some, limited

use it, declaw blades of grass

every day this writing grows ironic

where it leads you and where it doesn’t

where it seems to and where it shouldn’t

it feels rare but it isn’t

that smell is just your room

managing telepathic signals

a rune crudely drawn on your forehead

every step into love is one away from your mother tongue

and this dreamy moment is coded nation

an alarm in somebody else’s home tells you

someone is past waking up, or should be

you’d like to reject this

you’d like to reject dying

maybe there’s a thinner barrel of air

I don’t mean to blind myself and chain monkey tails into stanzas

you might feel absent in your own room

but you are wrong

you keep being wrong automatically

when you set out to sculpt

to shrink the world in your eye

until it pops into runes

until it seems as small as steam

condensing on a white wall

your job is to draw an outline to a kingdom

and to be somewhere in its muddled populace

maybe a clue, a twist, but certainly a stone, a description

don’t let this be so simple

a thin atmosphere of cologne

a star, someday, will be resting unopened on the table

it can be cracked by a hammer and made ordinary

if that incessant rumbling at the back of your throat persists

let a stranger stuff it back into your ribs

this is so you can focus in quiet

this is all so you can pass like a truck on a highway

from one white point to another white point

and dramatize it simply and terribly

the ink stain you’ve left is another country


you are here to write a new book

and instead you are summoning fickle islands

you notice the fan is spinning lopsided  

you shouldn’t write that down

it gets easier

when the surface tension is broken

when your darkened back cracks wide

after a bird drops onto a power line

there is this stillness that makes itself concrete

beginning to be everywhere, like candy

a cat convincing itself it’s hungry

to beg to be outside, to beg and choos

you’ll peel the skinny image of leaves from their sound

hold them inches apart

to make a headache

the idea is hoping to freeze over

a permanent pill, a raised barrier

someone is speaking rapidly at the edge of the room

you turn to know, not to notice

sweat is piling on your paper

as you try to temper the rant and stop it from passing

through where the window starts and the wall stops

at an angle,

this procrastinated page looks like a ribbon of snow

fallen on your island

which has never seen snow

causing some half-birthed blindness in its scared strangers

now they can act famous, play the cello

but you can feign preciousness

or you can rest your head on mine

this room is empty

so are you

you could scream and fill it quickly

over the minute of your lifetime

or you can rest your head on mine

and smell that grease in the air

that tells us strangers that it is about to rain

Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué

Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué is a poet and writer living in Chicago. He is the author of three books of poetry, including most recently Losing Miami (The Accomplices, 2019) which was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry. His fourth poetry book, Madness, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books. He is also the co-editor of a book of selected sketches by the artist Gustavo Ojeda, out from Soberscove Press in 2020. He is currently a PhD student in English at the University of Chicago where he works in the study of sexuality.

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