Issue 18: Anthony Madrid

Maxims 2

Has it coming, the pest. Gets irritated, the stuck up. Gets approval, the dimpled. Gets cold, the talk.

The sidewalk separates from the curb. Frogs peek out there. There are passages there, channels.

Gardens, orderly, get respect; no one hurts them. Only animals, insects, beings without comprehension.

A house on a corner lot, good to look up at from the corner, compels. Branches of live oak reach across the way. There must be acorns, black, green, green with earth yellow.

The wind cools the walker. There is nothing to stop the wind up. It finds every walker in its path, cools him, cools her.

Director must direct and make decisions. Buildings on the edges of developments look out over edges. The other world never nearer.

Between towns, roads are lonely. Lonely, too, who cannot bear being lied to. The angry become less intelligent. Do and undo, the day is long enough.

Liars do not think they are lying; that’s how they do it. The nut gives way to the teeth; the teeth crush it.

Smashed frog in the parking lot turns colors, becomes flat, extends its fingers, does not come back to life when it rains, yet disappears.

Wonderfully, beliefs antedate evidence. Wonderfully, people seldom believe a thing unless they already wanted it.

Many cry when signaled, not pursuant to cognition. What is offered as proof is suspect.

Summer makes strategic. Strategy is a pleasure. Whatever people say, to obey, of itself, does not hurt.

Stray feline must lie in shade, under tree, distrust her well-wisher first. Grackle must shelter under car, direct its thirsty attention to the water there.

Cut of meat must lose its color on the fire, exchange it, be seasoned. To be accused, rightly or wrongly, feels the same.

Old man must speak against his own best interests, for he cannot swallow his complaints, not all of them. Glassware touching glassware gets chipped, broken into triangles, in the move.

Vital sheet of paper must sometimes be lost. Papers are many. The thing learned at length, the memorized rigmarole, must fade from memory, in time.

The kind word given unexpectedly is good. The hearer must be relieved. The thought that nothing can ever go right again must depart for a time.

The light must change. The waiting person wait longer. The walker must step out of the summer heat wet to the hair roots, the shirt wet.

The sky is the same but seems grander where no buildings are. Colored clouds are remarked; white ones less.

One’s looks, one’s skin color matter less if money has its feet in it. The hated one, the cheated many, are the poor.

Lean grackle must stalk a branch, mouth open like scissors. Striped raptors, wings in fixed positions, must kite, must circle.

Beautiful Soul wants a world in which he or she has no place. Godspeed, sweet intent. Love will creep where it cannot go.

Stick-figure reptiles, black, must cross the sidewalk by the pool, dartingly. They weigh one paperclip.

Beauty enslaves on contact. Better have it than hear of it. Sweet and cunningly seldom meet.

In dragging a bamboo tree, one must snatch it by the eyebrows. The rusty sword and the empty purse plead performance of covenants.

Even Graceful must sometimes, in putting on her coat, sweep everything off the table and into the floor. If many strike on an anvil, they must in meter.

He, only, pursues honesty honestly, who has destroyed any possibility of good repute. Whether you boil snow or pound it, you can only have water out of it.

Cities must have boulevards, vast channels not possible or dangerous to cross. There must be holes in the decomposing concrete, paint invisible at sunrise and sunset, guardrails, median strips, shrines.

The student must wait to do the assignment, wait beyond the advisable point, stay up against a deadline. Must turn in a paper never read, not by the writer, not by the friend.

Must muster, thunder, one or two times in a life, a sound to frighten the unfrightenable. Must pour, from the sky, rarely, chips and balls and coins and smooth clusters of partly white, partly clear ice.

Some believe, helplessly. Others, less. Some count, tabulate, helplessly. They check calendars. They can’t shake it.

Winter travels, hides, shelters. It pursues the lightly dressed into buildings during summer. It lies in wait in restaurants, miscalculates.

The pill and its coating, obnoxious to the child, are welcome enough to the grown swallower. First deserve and then desire. Blow first and sip afterwards.

The wise let it go a great deal. Sorrow is wondrously clinging; clouds glide. The friend who comes apologizing and promising must be received. He is sorry and not sorry and sorry.

Courage comes up. Sacrifice, oftener. The disintegrating parking lot is witness to the exchange. Drugs are traded, caresses.

The dog in its heavy coat must lie, half dead, on the porch. Eyes like a bear, tongue like a lion, lethargy.

One must consciously retire. Comes off a train none but was on it. The heirloom ring, wrong-gendered, trash, gets rescued.

When the spirit of praising is upon him, a man will judge linen by candlelight. Burr oaks yield fewer fruit, but bigger, shag-capped.

One must consciously retire. A helve must fit its ax head. Most laugh before understanding. Fame is best.

Anthony Madrid lives in Victoria, Texas. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2013, Boston Review, Fence, Harvard Review, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. His second book, just out from Canarium (February 2017), is called TRY NEVER.