by Zachary Caballero

With every effort of my body,
I tried excusing myself from the universe of giving a shit
Thought empathy was something you could exile
a tiny revolution,
so I walked out on my better angels
Stopped writing poems for god knows how long
Reasons to live were everywhere but I missed every invitation
Said tomorrow like a proud martyr
and walked back into my shadow.

And then, one day—
The myth lifted. I found the cure to this virus.
It’s called, I don’t need a reason to ask for forgiveness.
And I don’t have to explain why.
Don’t need to be a witness to my own suffering.
When the past passes me by, I don’t ask it to stay.
I found my purpose in life a long time ago:
To talk.

Survival is nothing like you expect.
I walk my voice into a memory and
A song becomes a time machine.
I go back to who I was
when all I wanted was
to become who I am right now.
Don’t ask me to explain.
I’m too busy
falling in love every day
in a thousand different ways
with the woman who found the soft edges
of my pain, the woman who sparks a smile
through the dark.

I learned, just by picking up the phone,
I can turn my mother’s voice to neon joy
when I call to say I miss her.
I keep getting more and more good news.
My grandma texts me and tells me to say a prayer
over the front door and back door
with olive oil, to bless the body and the house
and god becomes a recipe
I didn’t know I had the ingredients to

I open up the windows to let the breeze in
and laughter from the neighborhood mijos and mijas
spins the wind-chimes on my front porch
until nothing hurts ever again.
The sun sets in front of me when a
cardinal crosses the railroad tracks,
a scarlet red descent into the thick brush,
like a flame that disappears from birthday breath,
carrying a wish I’m not supposed to share just yet.
I wonder, what spirit came to visit me? I cannot say.
All I know is, I missed the universe of my own voice.