Image by Jack Cross

ENSEMBLE

the madrigal, volume iii.v

Jamie, Mike, and Dad

by james diaz

The fisher king
was like blood to me
my uncles wore their capes
inside of themselves till they were thrown into rivers
and open elevator shafts
of light picnicked around their weary
their yearning, their long-hauling


I saw my father call up their ghosts
every time he put the needle on the record
saw him go back in time
through mean streets
and the hell-yelling in the tombs
throwing tv's through windows
dodging cops on every corner


asleep for 2 days on a bench in Tomkins sq
my father says, he awoke from a heroin daze
looking for the ghosts of his brothers
in all the usual spots


still, all these years later
he's looking inside of old songs for a trace of them
these fisher kings of the quarry
the junkyard, the river styx
these bloody beautiful poets
fallen and fallen
through holes of american sadness


stars burn out
but linger
I can see them still
in every fallen man
stooped over
along the last exit to heaven


yearning and burning for what never came
but was always shining up on that far hill
like a sleepy eye
sayin: one more mile
and it's all smiles

one more mile
but the road is closed,
always closed


for them
who were beautiful
and burning.

James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018) and All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021) as well as the founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic. Their work has appeared in Yes Poetry, Cobra Mag, Rust + Moth and Cleaver Magazine. They currently live in upstate New York.