Dionisio D. Martinez


Temporary Losses - Poem by Dionisio D. Martinez

Now that I know where circus children
go when they run away, I have no desire to move.
I load the moving van and tell the driver
to go until he runs out of road or out of gas or
out of towns that refuse his worthless cargo.

To define what remains, we speak the language of
the invisible man who argues with the doctors long
after the amputation, tells them
that he still walks with a phantom limb. Literally.

I begin to count the change in my pocket
and think of Thoreau living on 27 cents a week,
walking too much, becoming accustomed
to the calluses from the ax, the strained
muscles and all that water rising from the pond.

When I lay the change on the floor I find
a penny rubbed since 1944 by fingers not unlike
my own. I rub it too. For luck,
I think. All my superstitions are hand-me-downs.
What do I know about luck? What do I care if
the face of Lincoln rubs off on my fingers?

The oldest train route on the island began
a block from home. We laid coins
on the tracks and moved out of the way quickly,
remembering the kid who'd been half blinded.
I still wonder if a man with a glass eye
sees half of everything-half of the road, half
of the woman who will not tell him all the truth,
always a half moon regardless of the tides.

You want me to believe in everything, but there's
something to be said for knowing that a house
is not the world, that we can live without
the wicker furniture that made our house as tangible
as a father's arms. After all, sooner
or later they'll stop calling us orphans.

I hold my life savings in this hand.
No matter where I go, I carry foreign currency.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, July 23, 2006

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 18, 2010


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