Alberto Ríos


A Man Then Suddenly Stops Moving

The old Russian spits up a plum
fruit of the rasping sound
he has stored in his throat
all these lonely years

made in fact lonely by his wife
who left him, God knows
without knowing how to cook for himself.

He examines the plum
notes its purplish consistency
almost the color and shape of her buttocks
whose circulation was bad

which is why he himself wears a beret:
black, good wool, certainly warm enough
the times he remembers.

A Small Story about the Sky

The fire was so fierce,
So red, so gray, so yellow
That, along with the land,
It burned part of the sky
Which stayed black in that corner
For years,
As if it were night there
Even in the daytime,
A piece of the sky burnt
And which then
Could not be counted on
Even by the birds.

Mason Jars by the Window

Yes, but beyond happiness what is there?
The question has not yet been answered.
No great quotations have issued forth
From there, we have no still photographs
Full of men in fine leather hiking boots,
Women with new-cut walking sticks.
So yes, it is the realm of thin tigers
Prowling, out to earn even more stripes;
It is the smell of seven or eight perfumes
Not currently available in America.
Maybe this is wrong, of course.
The place may after all be populated,


William cut a hole in his Levi’ s pocket
so he could flop himself out in class
behind the girls so the other guys
could see and shit what guts we all said.
All Konga wanted to do over and over
was the rubber band trick, but he showed
everyone how, so nobody wanted to see
anymore and one day he cried, just cried
until his parents took him away forever.
Maya had a Hotpoint refrigerator standing
in his living room, just for his family to show
anybody who came that they could afford it.

Some Extensions on the Sovereignty of Science


When the thought came to him it was so simple he shook his head.
People are always looking for kidneys when their kidneys go bad.

But why wait? Why not look when you’ re healthy?
If two good kidneys do the trick, wouldn’ t three do the job even better?

Three kidneys. Maybe two livers. You know. Two hearts, of course.
Instead of repairing damage, why not think ahead?

The Night Would Grow Like a Telescope Pulled Out

People would come to my great-grandmother’ s house.
She was in a room. They would stay in the kitchen.
The words their words rolled like cars by on a train
Here from somewhere else and going somewhere else
Moving on faster almost than we could read them,
Sound them out my brother and me with our small mouths,
Chessie, a cat, see? the Erie, Santa Fe, Ferrocarril,
Ore cars from the Southern Pacific, brown
And all the numbers of all the engines.
The words they rolled easier, fat and longer

The Pomegranate and the Big Crowd

Ventura because she was hungry and because
She was curious — but more because she was curious —
Took the dare, a kiss for a pomegranate.
Everyone gathered, her friends and his. Everyone
Watched: the boys, the girls, the pigs and the chickens,
And more. Moving to the front were the children
She and Clemente would one day have,
And the children of those children, too,
Gathered and loud with everyone and everything else,
Loud as the pigs and fast as the chickens
Though she could not see them.