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).

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