This poem comes from Erika L. Sánchez’s book Lessons on Expulsion.

Click here to purchase.

Click on the printer icon to print this page

Letter from New York by Erika L. Sánchez

Every street—fried meat and onion,
smears of shit and a gaggle
of gadgets.  What is the soul
but this endless circuitry,
the bright and pitiful idea
you carry of yourself?
Everything open open.
When you say available,
what you mean is pornographic.
Like a muted orgasm,
you are wet and brimming
with vague disgust.
In the subway station, a man picks
his skin and examines it—
feeling generous, he tells you
he’d like to share his findings.
Rat song, rat baby, rat cloud
in the heavens above.  The rich smell
of baked garbage and coconut curry.
Fifth Avenue: a woman’s cupped hands
catch her dog’s excrement
as the dignified ferrets talk numbers.
Tiny mouths moist with want.
This is their desire: to slice
dollar bills and sauté them
in fragrant oil.  Greed is Saturn
swallowing his own son, a man erect
with both fear and hunger.
The woman in fishnet panties strokes
the fruit in a street cart, musk
of hangover so warm and thick
you’ll carry it inside your mouth for days.
The sounds of wet brooms.
Listen: froth, water, concrete,
The absence and sputter of evening.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow—
In your flamboyant despair,
You fail to suck the sweetness
from all that is good and holy.
Watch the pigeons so lovely
in their suffering! In the melted fat
of the hour, a crust-punk chokes
his dog in an empty park.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,
The dog whimpers, licking the filth
from his wounded feet.

To learn more about Erika L. Sánchez, you can visit her website by clicking here and visit her page on the Poetry Foundation’s website by clicking here.

Below is Goya’s super chipper and sunshiny “Saturn Devouring His Son.”