DAVID PEREZ

★ ★ ★ ★

POETRY

Image by Jon Tyson

Someone’s Always Watching

When we’ve entered
all our likes and etched
every post in stone,

we’ll be crystal glasses
covered in cabinet dust—
transparent and fraile.

And I’ll feel your heart
beat on my wrist.

When all is seen
and all is known
we’ll be free of secrets
bodies leaving souls.

You’ll press your phone
to your ear and hear
every time I said your name.

You’ll touch my side
of the bed and I’ll feel
the warmth I left there.

And you’ll feel my heart
beat on your wrist.

When all is seen
and all is known
we’ll be free of secrets
bodies leaving souls.

She Told Me I Would Live Forever

She told me I would live forever
the way a sweating glass
might slip from your hand.
I heard it again in Sunday school
from teachers with thin fingers
and gray teeth like wet paper.
In photo albums, everyone noticed
my white hair and joked
that I looked like grandma.
I spent the summers at her house,
staring at cracks in the stucco
or pressing my ear against
an empty hornets’ nest.
Always accused of contemplating
blades of grass when really
I was looking at holes in the lawn
no human hand could have made.

The Year of the Leech

When fire lived in tinder
and toads in the bellies
of children damp with flu

the only song playing
was Ring Around the Rosy
shrill in the village’s
youngest voices.

Once, farmers blamed
their wilted corn on glances
from the local witch.

Today, there’s faith
but no heart to fill its sail.
The city sticks to us
like a wet sleeve.

Clouds of hard faces rise
with our upward swipes,
each one a mask
its owner can’t take off.

David Perez served as the 2014-2016 Santa Clara County Poet Laureate. He is a recipient of the Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship for Literary Art; a repeat guest on the NPR storytelling series, Snap Judgment; and author of the poetry collection, Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse from Write Bloody Publishing. He has taught literature and creative writing at San Jose State University and Ohlone College in Fremont, CA.

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