James Diaz


The Rigor Of Breathing On Your Own


Touch is what curves into light
when a house you live in is no longer your own
the bottom is a physical low that all bodies have been in before.

You have been there twice
once when you lost a Mother, then a Father
though they were still alive and well
you couldn’t hold down solids and your liver
was knocking on a therapists door
somewhere in upstate New York
hands tremor
as if the world were nothing but a prolonged transient beating
no one else could see.

The slipper and the satellite dish
both conveyed their truth to no one in particular
a heavy wayward wrong pulled inward
in winter you stole supermarket meats
because the weight of living was starting to tear out your eyes
because movement meant touch and touch meant association
and association meant you had a body
and having a body meant that all of this was really happening to you
and not someone else.

You remember your junkie roommate Tony
the first real friend you’d had in years
coming in at two in the morning with a bag
full of nickels and dimes
rummaging through your things
and turning his face toward you
with the eyes of a freshly shot deer
then running out of the room the same way.

Eventually things unconnected have their own way of making the connections
you feel as if the light inside of you has been feeding on rat poison for over thirty years
the sky above is a broken border with trauma songs echoing out
and the ground below, a recognition eclipsing the fear of foreign places.

You think of this when you can’t remember your own name-
that every fragment was once a whole of something else
even if no trace of it remains.



James Diaz lives in upstate New York. His work has appeared in HIV Here & Now, Chronogram, Ditch, Cheap Pop Lit, Foliate Oak, Commonline Journal & The Voices Project. He is also the founding editor of the literary arts journal Anti-Heroin Chic. http://heroinchic.weebly.com/


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