Five Poems by Giovanni Mangiante

The world as a rusty playground

 

It isn’t just the dishwashers or the laundry ladies,

the janitors, or the warehouse workers.

I’ve seen and met with lawyers that are as well huddling on their beds

trying to get warm under thin dirty bed sheets

with no money to pay the rent and with no cases to take.

Engineers driving past midnight in battered cars.

Engineers and doctors driving taxis, sleeping inside taxis

that barely give them enough money to eat a sandwich and pay the gas.

People that never had a chance since their birth

walking down the same streets and turning the same corners

right next to the people that burned their chances

in order to become what they didn’t want to.

 

The world has boiled down to one truth:

It’s mentally ill parents raising mentally ill children.

 

The educated and the less educated, all dance holding their hands

to an unsteady rhythm,

both spend countless nights alone

under roofs with no electricity,

listening to the grumblings of their stomachs,

sometimes looking out of a window

trying to find someone

just like them.

 

You can’t silence the wolves

 

I write for the eyes of a different age,

those who don’t waste their time

looking in between the lines,

and scratching at thick layers of metaphor

trying to find what was always

in plain sight;

those who take the words

like a rusty dagger

to kill that which kills them

from the inside.

 

the spirit

of the unhinged, unnerved, undisturbed

 

the spirit

of a brick wall, a pistol, a speeding truck

 

I write

to the ones who

 

reach into the unknown,

and find the will

to survive—

 

whatever it takes.

 

 

Ashes

 

I’m falling like an empire—

crashing down into the flames,

dancing with the shadows cast.

 

I’m falling like an empire—

standing amongst the chaos

like Nero drunk on euphoria.

 

I’m falling like an empire—

holding a book of blank pages,

a pen, one last desperate poem.

 

I’m falling like an empire—

my fingernails, my knuckles,

my fingers, my hands;

 

waiting for

rebirth.

 

The sun shines again, Emma.

 

These curtains, these bed sheets, these walls,

this ceiling, these pillows, this spider in the corner,

these hands and fingers,

the old wrinkles, the new ones,

know:

 

there is something under

a dark blue shirt,

a pair of black jeans,

underwear,

shoes;

and it walks in the late afternoon to find food,

it waits in lines in supermarkets,

in drugstores,

it smokes cigarettes inside a small room,

it tries to scratch itself away

from under its skin, writing, writing, writing

about lonely dogs and lonely cats from a third world neighborhood,

but this time the sun shines again, the coffee is fresh,

the cigarette smoke has cleared out,

this time it can look at itself in the mirror again

feeling at least five years younger.

 

This one is for you,

Emma.

Through the mud

 

I chugged medicine three times a day:

morning, afternoon and night,

because I was told it’d make me

feel better.

Sertraline, topiromate and risperidone

before breakfast

before lunch

before bed,

the side effects arrived

like a punch to the throat

in the middle of the night,

in the middle of my teaching hours,

kicking me in the head

until I was

drowsy, lethargic, tired,

but never once

“better”.

Giovanni Mangiante, born on March 17th, 1996, is a bi-lingual writer from Lima, Peru.  He has work published in The Anti-Languorous Project, Dream Noir, The Rye Whiskey Review, and has upcoming poems in Down in the Dirt. He’s currently working on a chapbook he plans to self-publish in 2020. In writing he found a way to cope with Borderline Personality Disorder. He used to be an EFL teacher.

Giovanni Mangiante