Ruben Quesada

Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal, translator of Luis Cernuda, Exiled from the Throne of Night, he has been founder and publisher of Codex Journal, Poetry Editor for The Cossack Review, Cobalt Review, and Luna Luna Magazine. He currently serves as a Senior Editor for Queen Mob’s Teahouse. He has been a fellow and Writer-in-Residence at Red Lodge Clay Center, Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Santa Fe Art Institute, and CantoMundo. He is the editor of the anthology, Latino Poetics, forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. He lives in Logan Square, Chicago.




I said, Goodbye


You don’t care that you’re in an airport terminal and people are walking by. Everyone is lost in the moment. Some stare confused at your exchange. Is this a departure or the longing of arrival? For a moment you don’t understand what is happening between the two of you. Your eyes begin to blur and his begin to glaze. This time he cries. He doesn’t want to leave. You hold each other. How easy it would be to stay there forever. To abandon the world for as long as you both desired. You move in closer to him. Cradle his head against your neck. Feel your breath against his ear. For an instant you think he never has to leave because he’s frozen there like you. You hold to each other so long because you don’t want to forget what he feels like in your arms. You hold each other. You grip his body bringing his chest into you as if you could become one in order to never be apart. If you hold each other long enough you’ll find the origin of love, or so you’ve been told. You try to remember what it feels like to have his lips pressed hard against your mouth. You don’t want to forget, then you kiss. You vibrate. The warmth of his hands hold the night still. If your last breath is lost in this moment you know you’ve given the moment the most life you have to give.



Even Bodies We Love Fall out of Orbit


He pulled out his phone
             I’ll show you where I’ve been
and the lights above began to flare into bright blues
and fiery yellows, colors only the sky could imitate,
            I’ve come to take you there, show you how to care
            Just be aware
I strained to hear him say something about a rumble
that awoke him from last night’s deep sleep. He’d just arrived
that morning to start his vacation. We sat at the bar.
Our seats began to shake, to vibrate from the bass,
Crystal Waters filled the air. I looked up
          it’s twelve past midnight, don’t close your eyes
a few bottles of liquor clinked then everything rattled.
          Did I hear you cry, or did you like the ride
This must be what it feels like to close your eyes
when the earth shakes the night into day
and the stars soften into ash; bodies coming to rest
          I’ll be your answer, I’ll be your wish
on the dance floor, others raced like comets out of control.
His eyes beamed with light before fading into a black
hole beneath us. I held him; his body a shell, a lost wish.
         I want your love, I want it tonight…





This morning, I found you settled into your bed the way you always imagined your ashes would settle, sewn, into the sea floor. I was spellbound. A torrent swelled against my breastbone and if words could conjure magic then you must have been an illusion because my voice failed to escape the slow dance of your peace with the world.

On your nightstand is a picture of us. Us both in plum colored pants and me at age 3, together in polyester—the fabric of our lives. We are seated on a loveseat in a home I barely remember as home. A faded time stamp reads 1989 and even then you were running out of time. Even then the Christmas tree was leaning in behind you—everything in the world was trying to save itself.

In the tongue of light weaving through an open curtain my hair appears bright black, as shiny as yours. Your mouth half opened; I was too young to remember what you may have said and nobody can tell me what you did because words don’t mean anything unless they can be seen or heard in the moment.

Of course, you must have been magic, a spell that eventually brought me here decades later. To this moment where I have survived on my own. It has been said that primitive man relied on family to survive and beyond the herd chances of living were slim. Whatever it was you said, it allowed me to make my peace with the world and thrive for this long.

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