Spring 2006

Radames Ortiz


Radames Ortizís work has appeared in numerous publications including, US Latino Literature Today and Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems and Paintings from Texas (Greenwillow, 2004). He was awarded a 2003 Archie D. and Bertha Walker fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and was nominated for a 2003 Pushcart Prize. He currently resides in Houston, Texas, where he works at the University of Houston.
Family Group Day    

When I am in rehab there is this boy.
He is fourteen and has survived an overdose.

His nostrils are abysmal.
The nose itself is like a raw

fish. His fingers are tainted,
the knuckles are yellow.

When his mother accepts his apologies,
his heart collapses.

The meeting room is chaos
so we cannot hear the whimpers

when she absolves him.
The hours pass: slow, then slower.

Outside the window
the elm trees

their limbs sunken and snarled as regrets.



El Papi Ajit    Click to hear in real audio

Ajit, an Indian from Delhi
leaves today. The one
who compared America
to a black hole, once radiant,
massive, now dim from
consuming singularity.
The electrical engineer tutors
calculus for in-state tuition,
the one I crowned El Papi Ajit.
Prince of supermarket isles,
of salt-starched noodles
stacked on gritty shelves.
El Ajit, among us, strolls
melancholy halls on campus.
Head wrapped in silk scarf,
pair of Polo jeans draping
off his plump architecture.
Once beneath settled pigeons,
we smoked Marlboros
down to amputated limbs
and spoke of unemployment,
the ascending cost of milk.
These smoke breaks,
amid pressured students
straining to class, revealed
his fractured interior.
Ambassador of applied math
who reproaches us for
our manic customs.
He swore, each of us,
our faces, our fixed pupils
dwarf in size,
denser than collapsed stars.



Birds, Birds    Click to hear in real audio

this day
in downtown, pigeons
congregate like dominoes
on the brutish grasses.

light poles quake like scarecrows.
trains chop neighborhoods
in waves. at stoplights, stalled cars.
beneath conspiring efforts of buildings

to envelope all doubt, another year
passes. another strand of ghosts is shed.
this year, these hostile days
fog like mirrors.

much life has gone into worries,
birthdays parties, mistakes.
neon signs of bargain prices
toss my muscles, tremors.

who among us knows
the majesty
of clanking
dinner plates

in homes, in gated communities.
delicious in anonymity.
numbness and ensuing infection.
the sky bears thin, this bounded day.

the rats grow dizzy.
crowded buses drown the roads.
all this noise. birds at the ankles,
ruining me.



Radames Ortiz: Poetry
Copyright © 2006 The Cortland Review Issue 31The Cortland Review