Warlike (and other poems)


I keep your name on the spot of my tongue
	you’ve touched —

you no longer see the world I see, do you? 
	The carousel moving;

your finger moving, too, in circles around me,
	around the muscle of the hip-

bone, against the trellis of my ribcage 
	caging the only warm thing 

I have left. I compliment the meth escaping
	your mouth in thick-wisps 

of smoke and then I want to kiss you, again;
	always again with you and I,

isn’t it? You tell me Stop scratching your neck
	and I tell you Find me before 

I can no longer recover from this damage.
	This damage is all that I, too, have

left, and while I was living, I hadn’t imagined
	it would come to this: you and I 

so brute and warlike, but it had. It had stayed
	like this for years: the incarnadine 

morning where you jabbed both of my wrists
	as I spilled salted tears on your lips —

you never once look up from that small sky
	and ask Are you doing okay?

As I never look down from my own small sky
	and ask Do you feel the same horror 

I feel? Years later, I would learn that you had 
	spent the mornings flecked with pain

inside of a lonely body I had touched, had missed,
	for the longest time — a hidden wound.

My Lover

My lover with the abscess in the left side
of his musculature build. My lover not working
any longer because passion is down or fleeting
(anything to help us sleep at night). My lover
not sleeping — day 8 now. My lover pulls out
Death from the tarot deck and lights go out.
My lover is cooking me a PB&J (I’ve never 
understood the relationship between drugs
and sweet foods). My lover pointing to his dead
ex-lover below the balcony where an acacia tree
obstructs the view to the ground. It’s beautiful,
light refracted off green. My lover is squeamish
with needles and pulls the one out and falls back.
My lover is kissing a disbarred lawyer on the bathroom
floor and I find it unsettling. My lover lost his mom
and is pointing to her up the stairs in the hallway,
again (I’m not superstitious). My lover with his blot
it starts on his arms from the drug use. My lover,
so beautiful and lost in his residency — just like I

Meditation at a County Rehabilitation Center

You come outside in your county-slippers,
the sun is bright, orange and daring,
so I don’t look into it, but, instead, to you
in your county-slippers and a loose t-shirt 
and your cock resting beneath too-large pants,
and you sit beside me — cracked hand resting
atop of my hand — and I could never tell you
where I find this act of safety. You come outside
to tell me Don’t leave, dry spit around your mouth,
the meth almost out, and I’m excited for beauty
to enter into you once again, or, better, to show
itself once again. You say Don’t leave nearly crying
but stop yourself moments away from tears,
but I want it. I want to watch you fall apart,
and I want to watch it all burn as I have 
burned down but you stop yourself moments away
from the bravest thing you’ve ever done, and,
instead, say Be safe with a stoic look —
unflinching and coming close to beauty again —
and I place my cracked hand atop of your hand
and almost say I don’t know what I’m doing,
but instead, I say Ok and, moment by moment,
I fall apart in front of you too early in the morning

My Obsessions, I Have Them

I’m dreaming, again, of Christian.
His lips aren’t blue but berry-red
and full of water — full of a burst 
of living that the living ought to do.

Once again, I want to scream at him
We have to leave from here, otherwise,
there is no returning. And I do not 
scream at him. I kiss him and again

against, aghast, a gasp, the brown 
tower of dirt in this desert place
before we are incapable of loving
because the drugs disturb the most 

of us. I dig and howl my nails into him,
into his pricked and prodded flesh,
and water falls, leaving a trail of mud,
slowing us down. It’s unreasonable 

I think having to leave this world, again.
Nevertheless, a body through the wind-
shield. The white lines blown away.


  • Anthony Aguero is the author of Burnt Spoon Burnt Honey with Flower Song Press. He has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was featured in The Slowdown. His poems have been published with Carve Magazine, Rhino Poetry, Foglifter, Guernica and elsewhere.

  • L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first book in what became a fourteen-volume series. It sold nearly 15,000 copies within a month of its publication in September 1900 and remains the most popular of the Oz books — not least of all because it’s the only one illustrated by W. W. Denslow, whose depictions of Dorothy, Toto, and all the other creatures and landscapes of Oz have become so iconic as to be inseparable from Baum’s story. From Public Domain Review.