after Jon Davis

Past the empty rail cars shunted onto sidings,
though their graffiti will be remembered. Past
the smokestacks cottoning to the sky. Past the
silent I-beams dreaming of purpose. Past the water
towers that mumble their names in the cool morning.
Past the gilded dome of city hall greeting the day
like a first cigarette. Past the dour attorneys’ faces
on billboard after billboard, though their advocacy
is welcome. Past the drone and hum of transformers,
electrical substations, high-voltage power lines. Past
the noisome choke of air over sawtoothed roofs,
vacant stockyards, rusted silos, storage tanks
thick with sludge. Past the crenellated parapet
atop the crumbling Methodist church. Past the
sign for the Horseshoe Casino that tonight will
glitter like a thing out of time, this— a parked car
in a sea of pitted asphalt where a boy waits with
his thighs sticking to the deep burgundy of the
backseat, a boy who looks up through the heat
billowing in and out of a cracked window at a
mylar balloon floating high above and wonders in
thoughts that are not yet language if he will be
like the balloon, a discarded thing caught in an
emerald skyline, shimmering like an empty promise
                                                       yet to be fulfilled.



There is bracken on the wall, knifing
shadows on the eggshell. It says frame me,

take these desiccated fingers and drink
. Outside, night unfurls like a frond,

sirens lash the air. On Friday, fires will
burn on the river where slaves were sold.

We will stare at flames on the water like
our Narragansett fathers. This is our city, a city

of exiles, a city without children. It means
divine care. The capital P—a stipe that anchors

the blade to the ground. We don’t care. We
vow to go nightswimming. To drink iodine and

forget our moorings. But tonight a contrail
cicatrices the moon. Wharves sigh deeply and are

forgotten. We laugh, our bellies like waves
                                               becoming the sea.

DAVID JOEZ VILLAVERDE is a Peruvian American multidisciplinary artist with forthcoming or recently published work in Crab Fat Magazine, Occulum, Grimoire, Luna Luna, Mortar Magazine, Dream Pop, Moonchild, Ellipsis Zine, and The Fanzine. He resides in Detroit and can be found at