Emergency – By George Angel




Now I become distracted at the gathering. My gaze drifts away from the festivities, and the breeze seems to carry off the noise. No longer strung upon the garland and falling away from so many other inflorescences, I find myself approaching a place where I can no longer hide beneath the mantle of abandonment, the brittle reproach of some discarded bouquet, as it is snapped off, bent forcibly into the bin. I no longer find the small burst of pollen to be much of a spectacle, to myself or anyone else for that matter. Whatever youth may have led me to believe, my glands will no longer carry me over.

The sun is not made of excitement, of brouhaha. You are the only reason I fret and bereavement sounds itself out, a fanfare in code, an alphabet of measures I take to be able to fill my lungs again.  I heave myself away and try to make it look like dancing, though the pulse and gush of a heavy heart carries ever more distant on its current.

I weep like breathing now. Devouring chance pursues the last of those who matter to me, senseless twitch of some giant public nerve. Tumult of loss.

Fire flowers and wind flowers punctuate the silent place where I have wandered. This is how it is after leaving the party.

Manic shivering can still be seen to pass from tree to tree occasionally. Or a sound like a large gourd falling to the ground can be heard opening on the air, as if it happened far away, and reached this place only as a rumor. These are leftovers from the ruckus, border shrapnel brought on by not being elsewhere enough yet.

There is no way to excuse leaving. Even when someplace was wrong, its ruminations poisoned, and the bones cascaded from cliffs in pulses of productivity.

Though the air was muggy with bleeding and the sharp mountains scraped upon the sky.  Blame like spackle covered their surfaces. The ground was wet with the stains of malice and stupidity, which of the two the gaudier.

Now that I have gone, how will I find you again? No longer a celebrant, no longer pressed close. Will you ever again rub my callouses?

Say parting, enunciate it in pieces, cutting off sensation from what nibbles upon it, managing a few steps ahead of the cave-in, ahead of the strident collapse. What is to be aspired to with separation? When the gauzy sound covering infection is pulled off and is now only a distant white noise that ravages the tissue of someone seemingly left behind?

What did we conjure that so cauterized us. Our jars are not sealed, unless it be by inundation. A roiling game, a game for the blanched, for the boiled bland.  

Maybe it is the rules of the game that made it impossible for me. When even one event can split reality in two. How many stories at once before the noise of it silences sound itself?

A human being intuits a great and unknown beauty out there. She lifts her arms and reaches out, hoping to be strong enough to receive and feel it when it blasts through her, even though she is fairly sure that understanding it may elude her for the rest  of her life.

And at the same time, mindlessness hives the life away from so many who hide frantically, who try to jump and scream their way through time and into death, glide-glanding it, erasing all of it beneath an incessant buzzing and an intermittent glinting.

How do you help a blind bird? A life spent mending what is not even being used. And still I sit before a large heap of broken stems. It seems as if most flowers are only held aloft, only burst forth, fly, for a few seconds before tumbling again, this time into a dark clamor beyond germination.

Will I go back and look for you at some point, on the barrens, in the muck between the wire and the concrete pilings, beneath that dull sky choked with carrion birds?

Would I even have a name to call out?

Or would it be a matter of beckoning you by crooning out our old swoony tune through the ashy air like some tropical bird that has mistakenly alighted on a strange and menacing shore and calls out in hopes that some other has held out this long, in some nook or niche of that place. Bird lost again, in the deep confusion caused by densely layered devastation. The half-erased world tips this way then that, like a drunken matron in church.

Rather than attend her, I continue to move farther away. The shadows continue to spread outward. Following them, I converse with their flickering in the silence of having turned away. I fall in with a stream of shades who are walking off their memories, muttering their last attachments into the mud of the thin wood, reducing mourning to a series of stuttered syllables that break on the cold air.

A misstep would totter me into the murky shallows from which sheer slipperiness makes return impossible. Given what may of any splashing, there is no resisting  flight from remorse, to float upon the untenable aspiration to survive, to drift on the rising voice of a thousand tributaries and slip out into it, the conducive embrace of Middle Sea, sounding depths, out ever toward widening dissolution.

The tree was sickly and cried out: Where are my yellow birds!

Going back can no longer be in front of me. But it is hard to walk away when the horizons are always spinning.

My memories are a blood orange. The stain burns as it soaks me up. What has been what it could have? Mementos dissolve to the buzzing of mosquitos, in bubbles, like soap.

But away is a long walk, and I have discovered something while moving further into the territory of decrepitude. The withered tree I now am, the broken branches that comprise me, and that must continue taking brittle steps. I find that now the cold startles me. Especially when I am slipping in and out of consciousness, slipping off, as it were, a sudden drop of temperature is deeply frightening to me.  Such an invading chill strikes me bodily, breaks me into panic, into kindling. My fiber is bared there, broken open in that instance, splintering into crumbs left in the spaces of the melody that drifts off still with most of me. Emergency, spilled forth amid the mist and within the sad shades, in their bellies mixed all achurn with dark laments.

In dreams, I found the place where we met. Then the dream cracked open, flourished, and later wilted off the husk of the noise of seeping poison. Will it be another dream that allows me to escape once and for all? But I am wary now, now that I know that dreams are nests for monsters. See that one, how it protrudes a beating pelican’s wing!

But my running walking drifting only stirs the air further into confusion. Mixing does not always better the stew, and there are bitter tastes that will not be diluted. Let the wreckage settle. Let the breathing ease. The time has come to stop. Stop! Stop talking!

While I keep moving, there will always be more away. When will there be enough less? When am I gone for good?


About the Author

The son of Colombian parents, George Mario Angel Quintero was born in 1964 in San Francisco, California, where he spent his first thirty years. He studied literature at the University of California, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Under the name George Angel, he has published poetry, fiction, and essays in English. Since 1995, he has lived in Medellin, Colombia, authoring seven books of poetry, and three books of theater plays all in Spanish under the name Mario Angel Quintero. He continues to write and publish in both English and Spanish. He is also a musician, a visual artist, and a theater director.