poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Oscar Bermeo



the neighbors of noah are everywhere 
pachuco children 
pawn their hearts 
wander the streets stricken  
with solitude

aztlánian nights

the sentences have rippled too far 
the mind underneath—beating 
veil me

we can always replenish 
never again  
we will be cold

about brother 
blood home from a war 
my voice in dreams 
converses with tangled roots and vines

i’ve come to thinking of the words 
there is no more appropriate insult than 
even with the dead 
who laugh with the last say

touch the single tree, the tendon 
find a language 
line up to receive an allotted portion of  
bone, a thin impression of cloth

working to restore 
still waters 
shadows tempting you 
perhaps this is foolish talk

worked in a factory for years 
parted ways 
ten years later, it still moves

one word 
scream that word 
whatever that word

darkness paints and blots 
one learns 
the rise and fall of night 
blessed be the way

still an immediate presence 
still having trouble writing that poem 
pleased to make a beautiful thing 
a fragile casket 
hatched in a shallow dish

plucking the seeds 
fermenting on the ground

call out the ice worker 
and all of his songs 
i’ll go now to the sun

hungry for the familiar 
when in his dreams 
his children take features 
smell the greasy condemnation

demanding my attention 
repent, the revolution  
is at hand 
i betrayed like judas 
birthplace of my fathers 
language—simple and undisturbed 

not enough whitman 
i see you all here, I see whitman

see me victorious 
my children, a cracked window

i am reminded of montoya 
the steel scars 
the shadows of warehouses

close your eyes for one minute 
it’s not long 
meat, forgotten 
turning rancid 
looking to mend the wound 
suffering synonymous with joy

verse, outside of himself 
love, i didn’t hear it the first time 
again—love, again—love, again

what language do you give? 
do you know how he would praise?


{Poem comprised of lines from all the readers at the In the Grove Issue #16 release party celebrating the life and poetry of Andrés Montoya]

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of four poetry chapbooks, most recently, To the Break of Dawn. He has been a featured writer at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Kearny Street Workshop, Bronx Academy of Letters, Rikers Island Penitentiary, UNC-Chapel Hill, and NYU. Recent poems appear in Bestiary Magazine, CrossBRONX, Generations Magazine, Milvia Street Journal, and phat'itude Literary Magazine. He has taught creative writing workshops to at-risk youth in the Bronx, foster teens in San Jose, bilingual elementary school students in Oakland, and to adults through the Oakland Public Library's Oakland Word program. Bermeo makes his home in Oakland, with his wife, poeta Barbara Jane Reyes.  His website: www.oscarbermeo.com.


Published in Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2012.