The Damage by Sergio A. Ortiz

A selection of poems by Sergio A. Ortiz explores a range of roiling emotions post-11/9. In his prose there are feelings of longing and regret, resentment stirring at the depravity and danger that is emerging, and warnings about the hazards of remaining silent. But there is also hope in resistance.


The Damage

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
“The Gift Outright” by Robert Frost

Maybe life gave us too much
at the beginning
and we kept looking

for a path that maintained
enough of a balance
so as not to become
this pestilent air.

Maybe life did not belong
to us anymore,
maybe the things we believed in
were part of the damage,

part of the petulant wind
knocking down the walls
of our nation.

And if we had known the outcome
would we have put our hands together
or looked elsewhere,
renounced everything to stay still
so as not to cross the days that agonize?

This is so immense
it doesn’t fit into tears.

We’ll hear the results,
but there’s no greater nostalgia
than that of the future.


The Outlaws of Canon

two men coming down
on all fours
from their presidential palace,
licking hands and legs,
dying, poisoned
by their own decision
and will.

Not one of them rests.
As leaders of the pack they chase
exotic reindeer
fire in the News Room.

Depraved, language perverts
howling in the chicken coop
of news anchors.
Their fame demands a change
in personnel.

Yes, outlaws of canon
with accumulated miles
of prostitution and falsehood,
fleeing their brothers,
forgetting their parents exile.

No, we will not forget
our stay in this country.
Nor the years of delay
we gave up to let you prosper.

Listen to how frozen hurricanes
emerge from the dew!


The Wound of Hate

Your smile hurts,
so does your voice
and the sea
in which you bathe,
even your ashes wound me.

The mourning seed
I feed with fire,
that is my currency,
this long, amorous nightmare.

And, how to tell,
tell you
that I have closed eyes.
If at the end of eyes, I keep
the almond and the broken election.

How do I keep quiet
when there are halved doves
on fields and fields of blood.


Sergio A. Ortiz is a gay Puerto Rican poet and the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee and a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

These poems by Sergio A. Ortiz were published by Angels Flight • literary west in collaboration with The Arts Resistance and were first performed live at NOT MY President! OPEN MIC in San Francisco.

Photo (Found Trump on Estonian shore) courtesy of  Kārlis Dambrāns