On Battling (Baltimore Strut)
Gray cased in gray, shaken
and truncated like timber,
the bleat rouses all provinces,
calling each seed to surface
and insist on a redress. This trumpet
of grief and homespun placards
is met with gunmetal treads
bruising the fruit stands, mustard
gas suffocating the night's
coruscation. As elbows
lock before storefronts
to shelter shop windows
from the wallop of pitiless
Kevlar, as flares browbeat
boulevards and arsenals
are dispatched across the wet
gravel, a single shirtless
seraph unfurls himself
upon the tarmac. Flexing
faux leather, he gyrates, feather-
glides, thunderclaps, then jukes
toward the 16,000-pound
armored personnel carrier.
The bullying smog flinches
at his voltaic gait, as he peacocks
into the boomerang hour,
cranes his neck and shrieks
to remind the intruder your tanks
are no match for my toprock.
Days of Being Wild (dir. Wong Kar-Wai, 1990)
At the funeral of his birth the seamstresses sing matte-muted adagio
of rouge and torn hems. Oleaginous in both mane and vow. Bronze
king of ennui. She drifts across oxidized hallways. Her dress, the slug
line. Blue filtered lights and non-filtered cigarettes imbibe them.
CUT TO: Closing credits. Exit. Pressed
suit preens for role
as auteur's unsung enigma.
One mistakes soliloquy for an affair. The other lives as an atoll, divot-
headed and bleak-lacquered. Boast-throated, he follows her like
a tracking shot that took the crew three weeks to stage. With days
drenched in despondent night, they mutiny through stasis, resist
CUT TO: Again, that infernal clock.
Train car hemorrhaging, roof
top scaled. An ellipsis.
the throttling of the hours toward shopping carts glutted with ailment.
These railways run parallel but incongruent; one stretches toward
longing, the other hunts for omission. They sleep in the wind of radio
static. She sways for the unthreaded fishhook. He is a desert gawking
CUT TO: Suitcase. Flower print dress.
Unrequited knock at brass
gates. Clock, grief-stricken.
in Dutch tilt at the inebriated street that spurned him. Reviled Coke
bottles. Bedroom slippers under the vanity caught in soft focus.
Castigated like a dipsomaniacal gumshoe by the blunted edge
of minutes. Triangulated cravings asphyxiate them. Each tantalizes
CUT TO: Pearl earring gifted to
the second thief once
reclaimed from the first.
the other through taciturn tides of withholding. Hell-bent on boring
the sea. But this mise-en-scne does not belong to them. This
is the viewer's Malebolge, a whorl of truancy spliced from B-rolls
of rambunctious prodigals who refuse to catch what they chase.
CUT TO: Clock. Stairwell in need
of serenading. Threat posing
as flirtation. Opening credits.
friday nights we prep for hot
skirmishes. take three to five
business days to primp and pick out
duds. shave. apply makeup. contact
all accomplices. hail our platoon.
then a cab. breach the checkpoint
with a wink. order a round of shots
during tactical strike assemblies. stake
out our first kill of the evening. flanked
by chaise lounges and black lights.
the beat drops in syncopation
with our first village
raid. clink our cosmos like mac clips.
chuck disco ball grenades into middle
schools. flirt bump and grind. spawn
mushroom clouds in unisex bathroom
stalls. flick cigarettes sucked
to the filter onto the casualties
we create. the styles we pilfer. smack
lips in the mirror. launch glitter drone
assassinations. snipe the bartender's
digits. swipe high-security specs
detailing an after-party in Kabul. drop
big tips like food rations into Yemen.
barrage insurgents with shock and awe
of strobe lights and unsanctioned
gropes. engage in a war of attrition
with the dj. execute a fashion victory
march through the city square. retreat
to a downtown studio loft bunker. order
a stop-loss for champagne brunch
in the meatpacking district. debrief
platoon on the briefs graves pearls
buried and plundered. court-martial
the sun for insubordinate conduct
during the ceremonial walk of shame.
Cicatristes (Demo Version)
who tucked you in who tucked
you brought you to the park
who tucked you brought you
lemonheads baseball cards
marbles who tucked you
touched you brought you
the dark you feared who touched you
when he tucked you told you
it was supposed to make you
smile but you did could
would should not smile
when he tucked you
brought you whittled you
into alabaster who tucked you
in also taught you alphabet
and shared his nerds with you
read to you stole you stickers
before he tucked you
read you fed you dark and now
you laugh because it cauterizes
the conundrum the humdrum
to recall who gave you the word
the sour stomach who tucked you
slit and gauzed you gave you
first aid and who granted you
the means to read it
Core Curriculum Standards: PS 137
tiled floor bedecked
sepia of potato
chip wrappers wet
newspapers rusty nails
gym shoe musk
ambling through unkempt
hallways fissure fresco
of soda stains
ailing fidget spinners
computer lab windows
swathed in shroud
of dollar store
electrical tape incorrigible
asbestos cavities hum
cancer anthems dipped
in chocolate fluorescent
lights dial supplications
above bulletin board
molting pastel homilies
to auto repair
diorama sprawled across
webster avenue crowing
Copyright © 2020 by Vincent Toro. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.