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The Elephants

Five Poems

Robert Andrew Perez

marine parade

how cool the ocean-
feeling blue gets pulled
in & the poppies on the island
median constrict their upturned
tangerine skirts like a puckering
thus i think a language somewhere
has a word for tulip
identical to foreskin
i wrap my lips around itas if
i know the soundin my head
my mouth
shapes twarthwhich i keep
to myself because it’sa hard
thingto explain why
it’s the perfect timeto come
up with new wordsfor parts
of usturning onto marine parade
from the beachto the closed café
& back to the house on third
the warm deck wood
is a welcome relief from
the cold sidewalk your
feet know better


runs across the rippledmolested plane of near-
non-thoughtan ecotone deficient of cleanth, riddled
dodecahedronalmy hand smoothing clumsily
the restalbedo refers to the reflection coefficient
of surfaces (whiteness)is to reflect to untouch/distouch
then to look in-ward, a contronym or janus word

function: to be larger when holdingalter(nate) physiognomy
not to better protectonly, that there were more surface
radiation to heat (iso-tropes)molybdenum rivers
though harder soilscations permafrost doppelganger
regard key to dissuade scaling fallacyah, the terrain

againlatently lush, senescent, dormant and not yet dead
maps the way to keeping distancemaps are a way
of getting lostflora, sightless yet light-sensitive, behaves
without knowledge of limits, asymptotes(as in touch)

an approaching:the weight of my hand on your chest
is mimi-crygravitas, what else can act across dimensions
haptic describes understanding or communication by touch
you feel me you feel meapsis, too, is a contronym

the closest and farthest pointsbetween the satellite
and the body it orbitswe are so close the farthest we are


you cast your song
against the deafening radio
silence you know

heavy is a place

on earth the ground rises
to meet the sky you’re like
in the center of a basin

the kitchen sinks
sound is wet grass

a river moves over your body
undisturbed dead riparian foul

the bed is the shore
whose tides fail to unmoor you

one doesn’t climb out
one ascends from
the song is an enzyme

unspooling the proteins
locking the brain

the skull is the room
every now and then you leave

apocalyptic vision

i feel a nakedness when you call me
out for my overuse of valence
wiggling into it

i explain how connotation is a pointing to
& i mean a way of seeing

at times you think the veil is lifted
(the damp, flattened clay revealed)

it’s not
a problem of sight, but perspective
the sun doesn’t set
we spin out

of view.  we are not in the centrifuge
any longer, we are centripetal—


the world never ends
when you think it will

though that gyre wrenches me, i hold

le petit jardinier

by nine the dew’s gone
he takes to the shine
the shears give—fresh
ingots slinging gold slivers of
light—pruning the foxglove

his back rorschachs
sweat butterflies
trees & skulls
the sun’s high noon
beats the hedge shape

like the devil this time
of day a dearth of shadows
belt of light
between the jeans & shirt
mark him tanner there

—banner skin browned
a breeze moves
thru clover like
plovers skidding across
sand—nude glissades

he carves a garden
everywhere a no one
a noon light hourly
black-eyed susan sun
soles soak electrons— he earths

Robert Andrew Perez lives in Berkeley and is an associate editor & book designer for speCt! in Oakland, where he also curates readings. He is an alum of the Lambda Literary fellowship & a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award for poetry. His poetry has appeared in print & online in publications such as DIAGRAM, The Awl, The Laurel Review & The Cortland Review, and has forthcoming work in Vinyl. His first collection, the field, was published with Omnidawn in their pocket book series and is a finalist for the 2017 Northern California Book Award. He is currently writing a movie about a divorce and wine tasting; it's a comedy. More at

This originally appeared on July 2, 2017