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Radames Ortiz: Two Poems

Stroke | On the Suicide of Zdenek Adamec


Three years ago my left arm moved.
It reached for a sun perched
In a web of leaves.

But now, it lies limp, restless
Like a bed of pink sand, a limb
Dangling in darkness.

And all I want is to tie my shoes,
To brush my teeth with steady force,
To be an exquisite ghost in the early morning.

This arm, this useless lump of flesh,
This song of my unbecoming, my heart
Whirling in flames.

Half-cerebral. Half-sensual. I want
Love to trample through my arm, to
Stretch across an unbalanced horizon,

Across the darkness settled in,
Across eternity and evening
Or the bristled hairs on God's face

And then, covered in light,
My wavering shadow
Becomes whole again.

On the Suicide of  Zdenek Adamec

I am there in Prague
among the slow burning of bones,
among the yawning of broken windows
The suicide's song slithers through city veins,
an array of birds reveals the battered sky
And I think of him, a 19-year-old,
a student with straight A's and no friends,
singing in the early morning, in the low fog
He walks among curbsides littered
with blurred demons, among garbage men
scrawling the empty streets with breath
The trash cans, the fire hydrants, the church steeples
drenched by blackened storms, by rain cutting shadows on skin
A row of lights descend like an obscure whiteness,
gravel roads converge into streams
of rotting cars, of callused storefronts
of urine stains on stucco walls
He carries a multitude of deterred faces
on a spine of pure light,
and Death follows, a drumbeat to
the chorus of crying steps
Tired of the ocean of lies, of the red-scream rivers of hate
Today ends the curses ringing his ears,
of car exhaust poisoning the whole earth,
of the fiery eyes of war
Doused in gasoline, on his way to the
soot-stained balustrades of the National Museum,
among the small cast-iron lamps, among
a bump of paving stones and a wooden cross,
the ashes of his pierced heart
burns bright without flame

Note: Zdenek Adamec set himself on fire on the morning of March 6, 2003 in protest of a world he saw as unfair and hopelessly corrupt.

Poet's Biography:
  Radames Ortiz is the author of a chapbook of poems, Between Angels & Monsters. His work has appeared in numerous publications including, Exquisite Corpse, Pacific Review, Gulf Coast, Susquehanna Review, and Borderlands. He has received fellowships from the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets at Bucknell University and Voices Writing Workshop at the University of San Francisco. He is also a recipient of a 2002 Individual Artist Grant from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County. He has recently been awarded a 2003 Archie D and Bertha Walker fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. He currently resides in Houston, TX where he is Marketing Associate for Arte Publico Press.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.