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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2018 - Vol. 15, Issue 1

"Forgotten", "Burned Memoirs", and "Voodoo"

written by

Sergio Ortiz


He arrived from Lebanon

ready to repair and sell carpets.

Gold and ruby fibers

put the mystery of time to rest.


He doesn't know

the twentieth century

will part like a blizzard,

same as every other.


When night barges in

without hands

ticking won't be necessary


and magical mango trees

will shed the last light

of a lost recollection.


Blood says nothing

of his Maronite prayers

or of his grief in an old

Kobayat alley

where he scattered

his childhood.


A longing for an Arabic

call to prayer is rare.

"Burned Memoirs"


I've kept them for so long

they smell like scandal.

One after another

they rhapsodized our days

with unimaginable desires,

forbidden wines

that never ripened

poured on the dregs.


Burned in the backyard

they no longer mean anything

only the coal of years

or perhaps your fruit, supposed nest

of tenderness, barely the blade

of a paper flag

blackened by polluted winds.


The photographs responsible

for the ferocity of earth

multiply inside my memory

like your skin once agitated

my breathe.


You're nothing, I'm nothing,

this never happened

and for the time being

the always treacherous memory

will be our dubious shore.




He offered me

a handmade box


with floral motifs

and voodoo pins


inside, four tiny children

nailed to my body.


He said: I'm yours

even if required to prick


the bolt between my legs

and that viscera, the heart.


Pessimistic butterflies flew.

I heard their flapping


in the shadows. The snap

of a nonexistent tongue.

Sergio A. Ortiz is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Loch Raven Review, Drunk Monkeys, Algebra Of Owls, Free State Review, and The Paragon Journal.  He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

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