Michael Caylo-Baradi


Distance is rhythm from a continent tapping fingers on the
steering wheel. They rise and fall around corners
mapping the city into billboard signs.

A passenger is another citizen of immediacy, a nomad of schedules
and expectations, before the backseat resigns to goodbyes,
once again, and recedes

to intervals of waiting.

The tiny cross hanging around the rearview mirror is an echo
from a village, of prayers that bury the landscape
in litanies before supper.

Dinner before midnight is a chaos of plans entangled in chow mein
or lo mein, chowing on grand aspirations and illusions
that nourish the skyscrapers outside

levitating on the finitude of light.

obeys another rendezvous into familiar territory, where 10pm bathes tiny bubbles around my son’s yellow, plastic ducky. Soon, a tale expands his eyes, consumed with wonder about the frog in it. He was holding my arms tight, while listening to the story, perhaps overwhelmed by the idea of a frog well-versed in human language and communication, a creature made ugly by large, bulging eyes, a squat body, and slimy skin so disgraceful and vulgar before a princess. I’m sure the tone of my voice created a female figure cloistered in narrow ideas of beauty and elegance, secured by heredity through the claws of cunning, obsessed in notions of respect and grand spectacles. Our clan has maintained the sharpness of those claws for at least two hundred years, ever alert to marry and reproduce with those who have the best pedigree of brains, physical symmetry, and social wit. These qualities are also there, in one way or another, in grandfather’s inventions, to say the least, a catalog of gadgets, spare parts, and accessories for domestic living, travel, and fitness, just to name a few. They have given life to the assembly lines of mass production that often thrive on the nerves of indignant workers blistering with protestations about the state of their wages. These workers were like the tiny bubbles around ducky, unified but not unified enough and, therefore, subject to forces that would suck them down the drain, the same force that could water my family down in the future, in epic proportions, if we don’t uphold the religions that have crucified us into an old brand of aristocracy with a commanding view into the surface of things: its duckies, bubbles, and other fragilities, floating in a tub replenishing our nakedness. I love how the breezes of Lake Iseo takes over the bathroom each night, lullabying me to sleep, after sips of wine from one of my family’s vineyards in Australia. The lake used to comfort the bodies of my forefathers, cleansing and fortifying their memories and aspirations from the atrocities of the Roman Empire.

How to purify the air

Re-align the universe in the direction of your gaze. This is
breathing unhinged from dysfunction, clawed with need,
panting for Narcissus.

A bedroom is an occlusion that sharpens visions drooling for its
prey crucified in surrender. The howling beyond the yard
intensifies the season,

feasting on rituals that clarifies the philosophy of fangs. Wings
fluttering by the window are prayers, searching for
maps away from the city,

now submerged in bodies of lights illuminating an aftermath,
of hands intertwined, gasping for morsels of God,
to resuscitate the air.

Michael Caylo-Baradi lives in California. His digital collages and poetry have appeared in other issues of Otoliths. But you may also find his work in Blue Fifth Review , Blue Print Review , The Common, Eclectica, elimae, Galatea Resurrects, Ink Sweat & Tears, Local Nomad, MiPOesias, New Pages, Our Own Voice, poeticdiversity , Poetry Pacific, Prick of the Spindle, XCP: Streetnotes, Zygote in My Coffee , and elsewhere. He is an alumnus of The Writers' Institute at The Graduate Center (CUNY).
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