Two poems by Carmen Calatayud

Swollen Heart

I remember the animal craziness of our life:
Video porn, wet sex delirium on the living room floor,
banging the wooden loveseat frame
against a thin apartment wall—
Who cared if the neighbors complained?
Red tulip walks with too much sky
flying above the cemetery
in between days of espresso and beer
while you painted and I scribbled poems
to perch on your easel at night.
Our fertile hurricane.

You transmuted when you threw cobalt blue on canvas—
Your cadmium red and raven black paintings
allowed our nightmares to shine.
Those creations cradled me,
gave us permission to float
away from this wasted world.
We tried to speak for the almost dead
with body-part collages and bird skulls found,
my disease-filled lyrics for the music you wrote.

Just two months after we planned to meet again,
your blood splashed, left ventricle to right,
chambers decayed into glitter of death you envisioned
but not like this:
Swollen heart, fluid filled.
Me wishing I went with you bad enough
that driving drunk on grief caused me to crash.
I begged alchemy to bring you back,
pigeons to break through your ribs,
peck at your chest.
For pulses from your electric guitar to buzz your atrium,
save you from falling into astral blue dusk.
But alchemy didn’t trick death or morph you into a Lazarus.
On better days, I recite incantations to make me
want to stay in this world.
I fool myself while you watch.

For the Woman Who Knows Death and Loves Hard

You love hard
He says and then he leaves
You hear this and think yes—
Our bodies are 95 percent water
Gravity keeps me from floating away
I love hard
Facts I never question

You sex his body with subterranean touch
So much so that he cries in your embrace
And you hold him with the power of ten twisted arms
You are a village of love packed into one being
You love his tears his cock the backs of his legs
With your lips and this is too tender
He wants you intense when you are next to his skin
When you listen with the loyalty of a Labrador
About every aching detail of his work
And two times he holds your grief
But the third time is one too many and it’s too late
You are too much
You flood the streets of his desert town
Ask him to mop without meaning to
You still love your dead
They are unbearable like you

He tells you 3 times he has a fear of abandonment
And then abandons you
You decide to love fire and burn incense every day
Nag champa to remember how you lit it when he came to visit
Copal to cleanse his being from your bed your closet
Your olive green couch where he wooed you
Palo santo to give you back your home of loneliness
Burning incense 3 times a day is too much
You love fire hard
Put it out with tears
You hurricane your pain all over the floor you don’t
Bother to mop it up
You would swallow that inconvenient grief if you could

You spill your dead when you love
Your shower of attention embarrassing
You were supposed to be just distant enough
You ocean of a woman
You are tangled with seaweed
Love as if today was your last day on the planet
As if today were his last day on the planet
You didn’t know there was another way to love
You are greedy for his voice
The hidden music of his eyes that sings to you at night
And if he were to call tomorrow which he won’t
You would know not to answer the phone

Carmen Calatayud is the daughter of immigrants: A Spanish father and Irish mother. Her book In the Company of Spirits (Press 53, 2012) was a runner-up for the Academy of American Poets Walt Whitman Award and an Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize finalist. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in print and online in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Banyan Review, Cutthroat, Gargoyle, The Manifest-Station, Poet Lore, Virginia Quarterly Review and Verse Daily. She is a Larry Neal Poetry Award winner and a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellow. Carmen works as a trauma therapist based in San Antonio, Texas to assist people on their healing journeys.