Dan Encarnacion

RINGER. from Rhumba, a semi-autobiographical novel-in-verse

“Clocks click.”
                  - Mark Gluth, The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis


Kids are in the alley shooting.
Shouting in the alley and shooting.
Shouting disparaging remarks.
Shooting off profanities.
A white chalk-line figure.
Kids shouting disparaging remarks, shooting profanities as kids are wont to do.
Their wont when away from adults, when acting.
When acting in the manner they think.
In a manner they think.
They think that makes them adult.
That makes an adult an adult.
The freedom to curse and condemn.
The freedom to penetrate.
Penetrate membranes.
Membranes, cells, tissues, borders, barriers, divisions, walls.
A white chalk-line figure.
The freedom to walk through walls.
The freedom to walk on water.
If they think.
If they think they could.
They could.
In the alley, they shoot profanities.
Kids in the alley around a silent white chalk-line figure.
A bright white outline chalked on the dirty dark pavement of a single, large O.
The perfect shape.  The infinite shape.  The shape that defines.
Defines what can be in and what can be out.
Embracing and excluding.
Renewal and resignation.
Completeness and isolation.
Everything and nothing.
Around a white chalk-line O, kids are hunkered down on hands and knees, baseball caps alit backwards, hunched down      shouting shit, shooting marbles on the dirty dark pavement of the alley.
Oxbloods, clambroths, onionskins, sulphides, steelies, bumblebees, turtles, catseyes, chinas, indians and commies.
A clay, agate, glass multi-hued marmoreal menagerie.
Marbles shot under a canopy of profanities and condemnations, shit-stained bile bouncing off the hard hot dirty dark      pavement.
Kids shooting ringer.
Hunkered on their hands and knees, their rears in the air, heads close to kissing the dirty dark pavement, one-eye spying      over a single cocked thumb whose limb protrudes before them an insect’s probocis, ticks.
A sulphide blinds a catseye.
Kids trying to capture.
Oxblood stains a clambroth.
To possess all they can of the others’ stash by shooting at and smacking the others’ stationary marbles.
A commie smacks an indian.
The kids play for keeps.
Shouting.  Shooting.  Smacking.  A silent white chalk-line O demarcating what’s at stake from those who desire to show      their skill to possess under the hard hanging heat.
They play for keeps on the dirty dark pavement on hands and knees, on all fours, paralyzed with aim, tense with animal      anticipation.
Little Rhumba hears the kids spit.
The kids spit venomous words as if.
As if they were pissed off adults.
Adults free to pass piss-soaked profanities wherever they prefer, whenever they please.
Little Rhumba thinks.
Thinks who the hell.
Who the hell shoots marbles anymore?
Who the hell sells marbles anymore?
The Little Rascals are dead.
Dennis The Menace is dead.
Little Rhumba’s hands.
Little Rhumba’s hands dig dug down dig deep down dug down down deep in his pants pockets as if searching for lost      marbles he never had, never had a chance to shoot.
Against the sweat of his thighs.
Against the bollards of his balls.
Little Rhumba thinking.
Thinking he has nothing.
Little Rhumba has nothing whatsoever to hold.
Nothing whatsoever to hold him back should.
Should he desire to hold someone.
Shoot.  Shout.  Spit.  Smack.  Smack.  Smack.  Smack.  A ringer.
Another marble captured.  A new marble possessed.
A ringer ‘round the ring, a ring ‘round the rosey, a pocket full of posies, ashes ashes, we all fall down dug deep down dig      ‘round a bright white chalk-line O, heisting, harvesting and hoarding the multi-hued horde.
Shoot.  Shout.  Spit.  Smack.  Captured.. Possessed.
Shoot.  Shout.  Spit.  Smack.  Captured.  Possessed.
Should he hold someone.
He has nothing to hold him.
Hold him back.
Shoot.  Shout.  Spit.  Smack.  Captured.  Possessed.
His hands.
Little Rhumba’s hands buried deep down deep dug way down deep in his pockets searching finding nothing he never had to      get down on all fours for to shoot, shout, spit, smack, capture, possess.
Little Rhumba’s hands searching in his pockets for a hard little orb.
Shoot.  Shout.  Spit.  Smack.  Capture.  Possess.
Little Rhumba’s hands looking for something to grab to get him in the game.
Little Rhumba’s mother saying.
Little Rhumba’s mother said, “It matters more that I’m happy.”
“It matters more that I’m happy.”
“You’re just a child.  You have plenty of time to be happy when you’re an adult.”

SENTENCE.from Rhumba, a semi-autobiographical novel-in-verse

“The senses deform, the mind forms.”
                  - Georges Braque

Speak, Little Rhumba.
Little Rhumba-speak.
Speak, Little Rhumba, speak.
See Little Rhumba speak.
See!  See!  See?
Sí, Sí, Sí.  Olé!
See, Little Rhumba can speak.
Little Rhumba speaks a coil of words to me.
To me a burning coil of words that forks and wraps and spreads wide my thighs.
To me a coil of words whose tendrils twine.
Twine my eyes, knot and twist to squeeze out bacchic lies.
See Little Rhumba speak!
Speak:  Sí, Sí!  Arriba, arriba, andalé, andalé!
Little Rhumba, sí, sí, Little Rhumba.
To me a coil.
A glowing coil that forks.
Forks and wraps and spreads.
Spread my thighs and twine my eyes, Little Rhumba, knot and twist and squeeze my.
Hear!  Hear!
Here.  Here.
Here, Little Rhumba, speak here.
Hear Little Rhumba!
Shine.  Shine.  Shine, Little Rhumba!
Glisten.  Glisten.  Listen!
Come one, come all!  All one.  One all.
Little Rhumba, one.
Little Rhumba, all.
Little Rhumba, speak your words that coil and fork and wrap and spread, twine and knot and twist.
That glow and burn, that incense.
Your pungent words—the headiness of rose bit sage-sharp sting.
My fingers twitch, their tips tingle.
A rush of musk on tongue.
Saliva squeezed.
Here, Little Rhumba, here.
Hear!  Hear!  Sí!  Sí!
See Little Rhumba speak!
Sí, Little Rhumba, speak.
Here, here, here, Little Rhumba.
Here where there is your there.
Your there, not their there.
Your meaning, your here, comes from those that circle you.
Comes from those that touch you.
Comes from those that texturize you.
Strength comes from their buttressing.
Their buttressing determines your sentence.
Your there, our there, my where where we hear what, where we see what.
What you speak.
See, me, Little Rhumba, me, I am here.
Here, me!
Hear me, their there is not your there.
I wear your where.
Little Rhumba?
Where are you, Little Rhumba?
See here, Little Rhumba, see here.
You’re there where you seek.
See!  Hear!
Here!  Here!
Sí!  Sí!
There, there, speak.
Your there is where you speak and are heard.
Where your voice is not buried.
Your voice not buried beneath their lowing herd.
Unravel your tongue, stretch your lips, relax your jaw, release your red coil of words that forks and wraps and spreads and      twines and squeezes from eyes a slow dripping stream of vein rouged wine into ears cupped.
Cups, cups, cups.  Cups of bacchic lies.  Cup their crack of electricity.
You’re already there, Little Rhumba.
Speak, Little Rhumba, and we’ll be here.




- - - - - -

Now living in Portland, Oregon, Dan Encarnacion had lived his life in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The two poems published in this issue are part of an as-yet-to-be completed semi-autobiographical novel-in-verse entitled Rhumba.  Dan has previously been published in Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, The Five Fingers Review and in the online literary magazine The Exquisite Corpse.




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