Apothecary, In Time of Divorce

Stretch out, the doctors say, and the sun will push itself over the hungry body. You will learn to love the effort of no effort, they say. You will love it in the same way

you loved becoming body, aware of, pulled back to body. Stretch out, the doctors say. We will RX you: your formula for sleep, three milligrams, with water,

to floating. To the stock footage of two halves of a heart for nights now, Arabian tales with same song endings, ghosting the ceiling, three showings each night.

Stuck tongues everywhere wait for multiples of milligrams, migrations across bedrooms, anything to cut the sting. I have vowed to trick treason in the country where I was once king,

live in the hollow spaces, enjoy the exile. I have learned the ease of taking advice when word has been ground to wound,

the nights counting off in rounds of sixty clicks, the fought longing, the ached limbo. And I have learned to put the deadbolt on dreams,

to place my body in the horizontal, to offer it its slow breaths and soft returns, to twin the heart back together.

The Father of the Bride Has Danced One Too Many Dances

It will catch up with me someday. I, too, will walk a daughter down the aisle, and later that evening, the lace will make its way down the leg and into the hands of some catcher who will thrust it into a pocket, still warm as he pushes open the door marked Men. He will be young. He will barely breathe out loud after his pas de deux with a woman holding freshly-tossed flowers. I will wait here, in the sharp tang of fluorescent lights, knowing the heart is delicate on days like these. I will make him see the breaking of my body, the breaths sharp and angular, bit off where the mouth meets the outside world.

Lover X

You have brought me to the line of freshly-stung brows. I am grateful for my place. I am slowed early morning syntax, spent limbs, a tongue trying to find clever language and clumsy desire in the same aching pass. You are teeth, in the jawline, guarded and then sliding gently to what has already locked our fingers together, in X?s down the row standing for exultant, or extraneous, or exit.

I fit neatly between the blades. I find both feet. I, once again, own the rise and fall of drama. Our mouths find each other, unfamiliar hallways, undamped promises to rearrange geographies, so that someday, at the corner of your Mission and my Guadalupe, we will reclaim this temporary throne.

I will become the star on your necklace of boys, the stone caught in the clasp?s faint hoot, the one still glossed and shining, the one still sparking at the points where you have so gingerly scored me.

– Phil West

Phil West lives and writes in San Antonio. He currently teaches English at San Antonio College. He has recently had poems published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and the San Antonio Express-News. He curates the weekly puro SLAM! poetry slam series in San Antonio, and serves on Poetry Slam, Inc.’s Executive Council.

– Naomi Shihab Nye