Poem by Xavier Navarro

May 2013

Semblance over the ocean

On evenings that are celebrated on the island
it helps if you know where to go and when to carry a weapon
a gun or knife that can protect you from all the junkies
and thugs looking to take advantage of someone
or anyone who looks like they’d enjoy being taken
advantage of because half the time when you walk by them
those—don’t mess with me thugs and—I get pussy like I shoot cocaine boys
walk half asleep with their cool dos and rightos
not really caring if the ocean is singing behind them
or if a chair and a beer smoking a cigar can ease their nerves
because their nerves are steel and calloused without
the good parts that make us human and those
evenings when you walk side by side then single file
looking ahead, side, and around hoping that light will save you
or give you just enough time to walk from point A to point F
without running into one of these pricks that doesn’t care
if you live in faith or bathe in sin and then wondering happens
all the wondering of Egypt revolutions and protests
marching in your mind because you wonder about wonder
and I know I live to see if the dice and dominoes that are played
by old men by the sea will continue to roll or will they be too
scared to leave the dusk and settle into an evening and
I sometimes wonder what angels do in their spare time
and if men become angels to escape from being man
and are the archangels watching the poor boy
who gets mugged for his shoes or his class ring
or the girl who is tossed into a van and raped
while the sky laughs and God becomes a spectator of his own game
and the angels that fall asleep on the job
forget the people they’re supposed to protect
and wondering becomes little wonder
with little control of the crying and weeping
of men who’ve lost their wives in black nights
and those wives are served as appetizers to the jungle
that eats and eats without
ever getting


Xavier Navarro was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He holds a BA from Iowa State University and is a current graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. His fiction has appeared in Newport Review, and his poetry has been published in the undergraduate literary journal Sketch at Iowa State.