Issue 28: Anthony Madrid

Bag of Black Beans

Bag of black beans. So try something new.

Set sail in a shoe, make a hole in the waves.

If I ever contribute to the world being saved,

it won’t be for love of the people.

Bag of black beans. So run it by Legal.

Sealing a hole in the wall with a cork.

An artist’s love is love for the work

as it will be when it’s finished.

Bag of black beans. Norwegian and Finnish.

Adventurous curls and pitiful noise.

My ahimsā is the same as Tolstoy’s,                               अहिंसा

except he did it for God.

Bag of black beans. Aluminum rod.

Uruguayan sun with squiggling rays.

My ahimsā’s like MLK’s,

except he did it for God.

Bag of black beans. Malfeasance and fraud.

I’m not into anger, I’ve taken a vow.

I get very angry, I’m angry right now,

but that’s different from being into it.

Bracken and beans. Danish and Inuit.

The people in charge are following orders.

I mostly fail to give their supporters

the benefit of the doubt.

Bag of black beans. Porter and stout.

Le moyen age—enfin Malherbe.

I’m pledging myself to sharing the world

with people I cannot love.

Bag of black beans. White-wing dove.

When push comes to shove, when shove comes to shove it,

I’ll tell you right now, you’re not gonna love it.

You’re still gonna have to share!

Bag of black beans. Like water, like air.

Filigree mesh of the trash receptacle.

Woe to the wonderful, curdling spectacle

of telling people off.

Bag of black beans. Gonna need you to cough.

The drooping vines will stand at attention.

Recrimination, recondescension,

this century’s soup du jour.

Bag of black beans. We’ll know for sure.

’Cuz each bean comes with a tiny white dot.

And as for the pricks, I’m done with that lot:

I’ve kicked all my toenails black.

Like the Roots of a Tulip Poplar

                   Collaboration ghazal, written with Ana Sweeney

A dream is like the roots of a tree: like the roots of a tulip poplar,

whose searching filaments cannot but take hold of whatever they encounter.

The piccolo is a mighty instrument, mightily misunderstood.

For a high note is a well-aimed arrow, and a trill is a circular saw.

A dream and the roots of a tulip poplar are CELLS of the insurgency.

They work in darkness, in dark detritus, and issue their challenges upward.

Ad libitum is a lie. For, whoever looks away from the score 

is merely following a music she does not understand.

Look, an upended poplar’s roots! A dream, taken out of context.

But the piccolo, put back in its case, is removed from its natural setting.

Every day, my lungs fill with water, just as if my hollow body

were a conch shell or a ruined ship, returned to the boiling sea.

No dream is uninhibited, Ana. Yet, know the inhibitions issue

not from morals, but from the properties of the soil.

Anthony Madrid lives in Victoria, Texas. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Boston Review,Conjunctions, Fence, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. He is the author of I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say (Canarium, 2012) and Try Never (Canarium, 2017). His ‘children’s book for adults’, called There Was an Old Man with a Springbok, appeared from Prelude Books in 2019. Website:

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