I D K     I S S U E     5


john manuel arias

Pepi, Luci, Bom y Otras Chicas del Montón

Guanacaste trees and
In the crevices of your mouth
Forced-down secrets
Dismantle and tear
Her invisible baby
Breathing out at last, and again
I can’t hear you or
What you refuse to confess
I pin your conscience to the wall
It is loneliest here next to you
In this room
That you dreamed up for me
This fireplace of scratching flames
Like a shadowed mask
A father
Or the man who delivers bad news
To the love of my life
We make love
To scare you away
I am poison
I will be the end of you

We burn up in this copper forest of
Dry, bitter, nettle brambles
And there on my tongue, a river of made-up questions
Did you love me? Why didn’t you? How could you
Open my sister’s Barbie? The pregnant one
Still kicking, still fastened to a plastic cord
Gulping in something that resembled life and
Your song, these lies strung together by
What you’ll never admit to unless
I strongarm you, to which you howl:
We were put here by the mirages of where we’ve been
Bent over the dresser, sprawled out on the shag carpet
As an anniversary gift given only three months in
Its firelight contouring your face
Into what I want you to be:
My father, his child, me
In a clinic
Where my bones crick, snap when
It’s a mechanism for defense, like a hood
Or a rattle to warn you
I am unsafe to hold


John Manuel Arias is a gay, Costa Rican, and Uruguayan poet back in Washington, DC after many years. He is a Canto Mundo fellow and his poetry has appeared in several literary magazines, including Sixth Finch, the Journal, and Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, and his fiction has found homes in Akashic Books, the Acentos Review, and Cardinal Sins Journal. Before DC, he lived in Costa Rica with his grandmother and four ghosts.