The Sign on the Dead End Road Says Reunion “The illusion of detachment,” a chronicler once said, hand leaning on sequoia, looking up as if all history was born from its branches. I held my breath briefly, cleared my throat, crystallized that moment, took pleasure in the voice that refused to sing with an out-of-tune chorus. A kind of reverse osmosis. A molecule moving freely, ungoverned by the limitations of absolute zero. When the con —forms we’ll build more cages in Texas to house children, kill dreams, and it will be justified beneath the umbra of inflated thoughts. There’s a language for every moment. Syllabic flames clinging to tongues like tight silk to skin. What is known and unknown lies between pauses. Ageless cosmic dandelions floating in a soup bowl. Dreary-eyed, brittle, I turned to the mountainside amid the violet backdrop, deer running, elegant, relying on each other and their love affair with gravity. The mirage of time is rarely smooth. We are all refugees, nomadic dust scattered by earth fire water air. (First published by the International Human Rights Art Festival) After Leaving the B Train at Bryant Park She tells me we’re all inmates in a panopticon of our own choosing and that I should buy a trampoline because I jump to conclusions so often. We pass the brick and stone buildings and bleeding orchids in a fused language of twisted nonsense and strawberry milkshakes. A man on the corner of 45th Street strips down, below him candy wrappers and an empty milk carton. The night pigeons sing to the Hudson River and young navigator, tongues trembling in a wild dance, Kinky Boots playing for a fifth season, the smell of Szechuan, and we stare at the Manhattan evening sky as lights veil both stars and dreams alike, wondering if we might ever rise above the smoke and water towers. (First published in Marathon Literary Review, 13) How to Survive a Flood During Typhoon Season Depending on what runs out first, food or rationality, moving to higher ground, when available, seems like a good option. During my junior year in college, a sociology instructor once told me that taking the higher ground usually leads to longer, more painful falls. Ask yourself, is it possible to win a game when only a few participants determine the rules? If the answer is no, then you must hit those participants low, and make sure they never rise again. When the eclipse hides the light of justice, bring protective eyewear and a Louisville Slugger. As the flood enters in waves on the hallway of the blue and white auditorium, we grab bags and dinner plates, walk on chairs to a staircase. Outside, people are riding small boats, searching for family or friends amid floating branches and plastic bottles. Candles flicker out like dying stars. Waters rise above tables, banners, microphones, baby strollers, high heeled, red dress, denim jacket reunion as rain drowns out our laughter. In the distance, a few rich men move game pieces and count opportunities.
John Casquarelli is the author of two full-length collections: On Equilibrium of Song (Overpass Books, 2011) and Lavender (Authorspress, 2014). He is a Lecturer in Academic Writing at Koç Üniversitesi in Istanbul and Managing Editor for Lethe. John was awarded the 2010 Esther Hyneman Award for Poetry, 2016 Kafka Residency Prize in Hostka, Czech Republic, and a 2017 residency at the Writer’s Room of The Betsy Hotel on South Beach. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Teaching as a Human Experience (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), Pilgrimage Magazine, Suisun Valley Review, Expound Magazine, Pen Norway İlhan Sami Çomak Project, Peacock Journal, Marathon Literary Review, Black Earth Institute, River River, Boarder Senses, and The Poetry Mail/RaedLeaf Foundation for Poetry and Allied Arts.
Grandson of Cuban poet and musician, Luis Figueredo, and descendant of Pedro Felipe ‘Perucho’ Figueredo, composer of “La Bayamesa” (Cuban National Anthem), John Casquarelli currently resides in Istanbul, having relocated from New York City. He received his MFA in Creative Writing at Long Island University—Brooklyn, studying under second generation poets of The New York School, Lewis Warsh and Anne Waldman. John’s research interests include The New York School, Black Mountain College, and Contemporary Latin-American Literature. He is a poet, publisher, editor, academic, and partner to a great woman, Mary Jill. His current projects include editing an anthology featuring Turkish writers, providing outreach for Pen Norway, and completing a bilingual collection of poems that combine his grandfather’s work in Spanish with his in English (written entirely in quatrains).