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Three Poems by Ariel Francisco

Self Portrait With Moths After Rain

Moths stumble through dusk, descending
towards the glow of a glimmering lamppost
mirrored in the water of a rain-filled pothole.


Self Portrait With a Beheaded Snowman in Central Park

Across the fields of snow near an unfrozen
pond littered with ducks in remnant shades
of autumn, I see him: arms reaching to the bare
trees above that gifted those limbs now raised
in despair. His head lies on its side a few steps
away, twig smile vertical, acorn eyes beady, dead
as the new moon. The park gives no answers:
the trees are quiet in the windless afternoon,
the still waters of the pond pretend to be frozen,
the ducks feign sleep, and the silent snow
has hidden all the footprints except my own.


Lights Out, Vagabond

Standing around with everyone else outside
of the now quiet bar after the power
goes out on the whole block, the darkness

a bouncer that won’t let anyone back in,
the sign above the door that reads Vagabond
reduced to a dim tangle of shadow,

and looking around as my eyes adjust
I see a familiar face painted on the building’s side:
a mural of Jack Kerouac with slicked back hair,

head turned slightly, just out of profile,
as if expecting someone to arrive from up
the road. I wonder what he’s doing way out

here in South Florida, so far away from where
he was buried— suppose not even death
can quench the soul of a wandering man?—

and imagine him in a black and shabby
suit and tie, matching dusty loafers, and an ever-
burning cigarette glued to his pale lips, dragging

his feet as he walks from Lowell to Miami,
following some long-abandoned railroad tracks
overgrown with weeds and wild flowers,

dandelions that dissipate in the night’s wheezing
breath, where he looks up to the sound
of a howling wind, mistaking it for a train

coming up behind him, hoping to see
a light but always nothing there, silent thumbs
hooked in his worn-out belt loops— he never

hitches for a ride anymore but stops at every
dive bar along the way to catch his breath,
and if there’s no smoking allowed inside,

no one says a word to him about it. And looking
up at his face that keeps staring down the road,
I decide that if the lights come back on I’ll buy

him a beer and pour it out into the middle
of the street, watch it fill the cracks in the asphalt
to see in what direction it flows.


about the author:

Ariel Francisco is a Miami poet currently completing his MFA at Florida InternationalUniversity where he is also assistant editor of Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Boiler Journal, Duende, Jai-Alai Magazine, Portland Review, Print-Oriented Bastards, Tupelo Quarterly, Washington Square, and elsewhere.