J. Estanislao Lopez

The Word

God complains that the angels have become nihilists. Sure, He says, they’ll herald, but only apocalyptic news. They instill maddening images in the minds of My prophets: birds flying towards erasure; moons eating moons. On barstools cast in gold, God and I sit, shaking our heads. Annihilated by His presence, I’m resurrected again and again. He sighs, animating the ice cubes in His glass. He utters a word, and the angels all vanish. The flirty bartender vanishes. The belly of time distends. All I’ve ever wanted, He says, is a creature that fears me and calls it love.

A Man’s Apology

I never heard the words from my father.
If you can imagine a slug
on a scrap of driftwood
in the middle of the Dead Sea,

that’s his position on the subject.
Let’s not talk about it.
Let’s ferry our bitterness a little further.
In the waters, calm and saline,

two men embrace, think the words,
and sink. They share one
of the three kinds of silence:
silence towards the familiar.

Colder is the silence
towards that which makes us feel
estranged. I try to remember
which of my father’s silences

tucked me in at night.
I wouldn’t call it distant.
I could feel its warmth
like a breath down my neck

turning each square inch
of skin to glazed stone.
Sons make beautiful monuments.
I know because I am the father now,

shaping a life I hope
might float on water—
but it’s the emptiness in a thing
that makes it buoyant.

Let’s not talk about it.
Let’s keep waiting for forgiveness
to arrive like a late tide, over which we have,
after all, such little influence.

Anger swells.
Why not forgiveness, too?

J. Estanislao Lopez

J. Estanislao Lopez’s work has appeared in POETRY, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, The Shallow Ends, BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and lives in Houston.