19/30: SESTINA FOR THE GOOD SAMARITAN
by Zachary Caballero
St. Martin Caballero also known as St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of those in need. He usually shown in the act of cutting his cloak in half and offering a piece to a mostly-naked beggar crouched below him, who later appeared to him in a dream as Jesus Christ. Because of this, he is called on by those who need the assistance and kindness of strangers. The Saint is often referred to as the “Good Samaritan.”
The Good Samaritan just collapsed. 14 inches in 12 hours. A woman saves
her family by emptying the refrigerator, crawling inside the ice box, flood
water mocking her, but this is how one avoids death. The duty to change
is the duty of survival. A man slays his family, then himself. Give me pleasure.
I am under no illusion. I know how a thing becomes ruined in the wash, how time
thrashes like a wound in lime juice, the touch of jalapeno seed against your eyes,
As if another excuse to weep was needed. The world is greedy with my breathing, eyes
paralyzed by the damage we create, stunningly sad. Terror is honey for the bees. Who saves
the bees? The ways we kill each other. The knives we hide in our words, weapons old as time
as original as rhyme. The darkness cannot be locked up, says the bayou after the flood.
So who wants to swim in the mud of love? Our bodies drowning in pleasure,
forgetful of what we’ve lost, remembering what we’ve won. The world is afraid to change
The Good Samaritan has awoken. He anticipates needs, green thumb, tends to change
moment into miracle, sees the grief in the beggar, stares down loneliness with both eyes,
The prayer in his voice akin to the promise we give our lover, the lies we tell for pleasure.
Do not forsake the world, my love. The best is yet to come. It will get better. Time saves
the best bite for last. But, too many are swallowed whole, disappearing beneath the flood,
fishing in the mud of love. Opaque ache for bait. Tossed into the deep end. Is it time?
Your best is good enough. Your open heart is actually a gift, and now is your time.
Open it. Harvest happens first in the eyes, beginning the search for change,
Then by touch. Palms a precise kind of pull. You are not rotten because the flood
forgot to leave. Deadwood and oak, choked, but not defeated. Keep your eyes
tenacious, impatient. If the tree doesn’t have fruit, rip it up. If the world saves
itself, can I go back to bed? Look at this weather. The Good Samaritan is tired of pleasure.
I know not how to build or fix. I am not content with my fate–plate full of pleasure,
Cruel hunger, my appetite numbs. The child in me wanting seconds, my hands time-
tied, tongue lying out on the road, heirloom I’ve groomed like a cure. Pleasure kills, saves,
sends waves. Orgasms to bridge the chasm, to cross what we’ve lost off with a kiss. Change
is a strange prayer. Indifference is a virus, Please, somebody look inside my eyes
without seeing the flood.
The Good Samaritan is in love with everyone. I know the trouble before flood,
everyone’s secret is the same. We all want someone to say our name, simple pleasure,
simple song, familiar longing. Am I wrong to want kindness to blind both my eyes?
Come in, come in, come in. I’m opening my heart up like a gift, and now is your time.
Both the drowning man and the man in ecstasy throw up their hands. I refuse to change
my dance. Touch is a song in my hand. Sing with me, the Good Samaritan says, as he saves
The best part for last. Spring in his eyes. It is time
to forget the flood, cruel hunger of the sky, tongue tied to pleasure.
Alive in the love of mud. The duty to change is strange, but oh—how it saves.