Adam Vines & Allen Jih

Cante Jondo

Near the stone halo
too small for the head of the statue whose hands
a stray dog has finished sniffing,
the pedestrians never notice the infant

or his mother's bowed head:
asleep or bored or suicidal--
these differences do not matter to those who sit
on the bench next to the fountain.

Across the street, the bistro
clamors with a flamenco guitarist,
his goatish face and feet drawing
the couples and children

from their larghetto expressions
and into the soot and exhaust in Barcelona,
the candy in Seville, the croquetas of Cordoba.
Bent over the sanded floor,

the guitarist wallops the gut,
his arm's shadow errant,
fondling the corners of the room.  From holding his breath,
the wish for sound, veins in the guitarist's neck

reveal the letter "T."  The body's errors
should never be mistaken for answers.
The infant at the fountain is still silent;
the mother prays before a history of flaws.

If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride

The children in the red house
look down as if
contemplating the safety of their lawn chairs
while their mother hides
an Easter egg between St. Francis' legs.

A car passes. Another stops in the middle of Fulsom
so the teenagers inside 
can catcall to the girls rollerblading.
The sailboat--stranded
in my neighbor's driveway--seems to be sinking.

A woodpecker hammers the mast every morning.
On holidays, my older sister
read the same Chomsky book over and over again.
The reruns on television
reminded her what holidays are for.

Those days, I lined funky pens on the hearth.
I hung bags
of dominoes from an I-beam in the den.
How many nursery rhymes
did I have to memorize to forget all else?

The ham is ready, the table set, and my old dog
sleeps through
the neighbor’s cat traipsing through the back yard.
You are in the bathroom,
putting on eyeliner and lipstick for our mother.

I remember the hot water heater moaning in apposition
with your hamster's wheel.
You have brought her a present of dried leaves
wrapped around a gourd.
You tell her that her white buckled shoes are nice.

The spikes on the fence are rusting. The members
of the church down the block
are dying. That Easter I waited in bed with you
for angels to arrive
with their eyes shut, their lips pursed and blue as ice—or flame.

Adam Vines & Allen Jih

<em>Edit Poetry</em> Adam Vines &amp; Allen Jih

Adam Vines is an assistant professor of English at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he edits Birmingham Poetry Review. He has published poems recently in Poetry, The Literary Review, Post Road, Hunger Mountain, and Unsplendid. The University of Arkansas Press published his first collection, The Coal Life, in 2012.


Allen Jih currently resides in Las Vegas, where he works as an acrobat specializing in straps aerialism.  He holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Florida. Adam and Allen have published their collaborative poems in redivider, New Orleans Review, Barrow Street, Confrontation, The Baltimore Review, among others.