Two poems by Mike Puican

La Calle de los Salvados

A messenger on his bike at a light and
a horn-rimmed girl in a Camaro around

whom a salsa rises. Celia Cruz sings:
I am but a wind-tossed leaf longing

for a lover’s touch. No one
waiting in this traffic would be surprised to see

the sun darkened by this girl’s tear-streaked face,
to see her smudged blue eyelids make

disappear the clear, widening sky. Two dozen
schoolchildren walk through her tears.

They carry flowers from a garden
her heart has trampled through.

The messenger’s hands are golden; they’re
pollen covered, just as her red leather seats

and matching purse are pollen covered.
As she waits, the entire fourth grade

class slips inside her heart. She
thinks: Why have I cried so long?

The traffic light turns green and two sounds
break loose: the beating wings of the cellphone

in her handbag; and a street-fair tuba
played by a black bear announcing spring.

Clark and Belmont Ghazal

Two window washers radio for help when their Sky Climber hits a scaffold
on the way down. Someone yells out: Raise it the fuck up.

Down the street, three brothers turn on every faucet in the church bathroom
then sprint for the door. They push each other into bushes all the way home.

A woman applies her makeup at a traffic light while a chanteuse
pours her heart through a crack in the window.

An old man walks his wiener dog with her swayed back, nails clicking,
nipples hanging just off the sidewalk, connecting the neighborhood.

People, says a waitress standing on a counter, are we letting perfect
be the enemy of good?
A plane flies in her left ear and out her cheek.

Commuters gather on the platform, eating their spiced meat and fries,
leaning on the heads of men who say they will cut our taxes.

We all stand in silence, facing in the same direction, waiting
for the next train, thinking that we’re not moving.

About the author

In 1970, after hearing Jerry Rubin speak, Mike Puican hitchhiked from a little town in Pennsylvania to Chicago to join the revolution. He is…

Read the full bio

Issue 21 · October 2014

Table of contents