THE CONIL INCIDENT
remember their sky-blue sphere back and forth
glowing on the beach? those 2 figures. that night.
past the market district, the volleyball nets,
the sand-weathered steps, moonlight salting us
along Calle Bateles, peach graffiti, burst batteries
to Rio Salado’s percussive normalcy, where we sat.
them sit. by the water. foam in their icy robes.
piling sand into a little wall. a universal object.
orb between them, toward the plum-sky stars.
they were strange. we thought them somewhat
German. then the bleached mist rolled in, yanked
by a wire, like a curtain closing on the vision.
there was the giant, deep in the tempest. I do not.
Pedro swears. I recall the thin deep furrows
in the sand. little sculptures of barcodes.
he recalls the empty eyes, burrowing
into his binoculars. but did he have them?
I’m not sure. wind is time, sand the image.
that man arrived to explain everything. boats, cables,
a submarine. the nullifying spell of the state acronym.
my details, yours, and truth branching.
remember? one more thing and I’ll leave.
remember growing up. how we played catch outside
the secret Military House. boarded windows, nice garden.
China, ~2000 BCE, maybe
in the happy outside of time understood
they nestled in the crook of their z- and x-axes.
the scorched laurel pinned itself to the loam
as the bored scholar tried to climb the ladder
with forty-seven rockets taped to a chair.
how did it feel back then? everything, I mean.
the edge of the world knife at your throat,
misery’s avatar and her black soot leaking.
heaven was right up there
like with a lift you could give it a lick.
GRAYS OF ANGOL
the avocado trees
never bore fruit
after that night
the silver craft
upholding an urn
the neighbor’s dog
died the next day
still I detected
something to them
the stooped figures
a complex peace
like a new shape
my slender fear
changed to love
flooding my room
in gentle light
I could see myself
up to my nails
maybe the sinister
is just projection
it was like the light was inside my head,
she said. and the distant object felt within
reach. time was all choppy, she told me.
like running in a dream. very slapstick.
no haptic feedback from gravity, ground,
foot, or muscles, so the brain ragdolls.
her husband threw up. but their daughter
spied a frogman in its cream-colored windows
glaring above the beams with big, wet eyes.
it zoomed off but lingered over a winery.
I clutch their details like vines over a river,
letting go of one as I swing to the next.
what question is even sensible? looking down
from the moon’s marble teeth, looking up
from a leather steering wheel.
they’re all telling the truth. they look at me
with searching, hopeful eyes. I want the study
to be serious. the child draws a frogman.
so I bought a bottle from the ‘77 harvest.
to be thorough. the alien vintage. it was light,
notes of river water. an aroma like old cherries.
the cream label depicts a wagon on a beach.
everyone thinks everyone’s a bit mad, don’t they?
the wine was of no particular distinction.
decades before, in Blagoveshchensk,
your grandma saw strange fires
in the sky during the revolution.
there are mysteries inside the mysteries,
she would say, and she was right.
you wrest one open and find another
in your lap, curled up like a sable
holding a small box of shadow
and a puzzle piece of rusted metal.
you find more pieces over time
until the puzzle resembles a key.
you look for its lock without knowing why.
you organize trips to the mountains,
bring city folk who search for lights
but rest their eyes on the campfire.
you keep looking up, see locks
sliding through heaven too fast to catch.
you wear the key around your neck.
one night, lying down on a mound
of fresh hay, you watch a smoking
lockbox fall a hundred meters away.
you spring up and see a burning man
escape the box and crest the hill
in vivid detail. he says your name.
you are told to speak softly. you are
invited inside the box, where one
extends a gloved and glowing
hand into your chest and holds
your hunted rabbit heart. you pass
into a meadow warmth. you feel
the light emit from bowls of milk.
you want to shout but language
shrinks from deep inside your head
like spiderwebs in barren trees.
they take your key. they give you
a box. you stumble back to camp.
the box is casket heavy.
it is locked.
you will carry it for years.
August Smith is an artist in Austin, TX. You can view his poems, songs, and games here: augustsmith.net.