With a bullet, sparrow voices \
Michael J. Pagán



            On summer nights, laundry

& the lighted windows hit by cars;

their searchlights like teeth; the clickings


            of the tree bark outside as

the night grows older: by the pulses

of blood, by irregular hearts beating, by


            us stealing conversations from

the people outside, by the freeway

overpass to the airport, by the fire


            people nights. To us, the night was

always indestructible, & us, in our

cardboard crowns, we listened along


             with the cast-iron fan & air

conditioning smells, & metal & wood clunking

“Deportation,” through its clenched teeth


            while our bodies thought aloud,

like acrobats caught by the abdomen, whispering

back “Exile.” We loved from our buildings.


            That’s how we learned dreams mean

worse than silences when invisible, gone or never

answered. So we invented the hand webs & finger


            jams housing our hands, like oceans

pressed into leaves, I saw the wings with eyes,

you said. You tightened, downward around my


            fingers, shoulders pulled down, ankles

together, feet in a knot, their tight, foot-binding

songs our armor & boots. Then we opened


            like needles in a laughter, realizing we

still had enough room for skin & the spectacles

of breathing. We were an actual place, until


            our city stripped us of the night &

its suggestions in favor of the actual

concerns of our time as pistol shots


            sparrow our breathing, our

voices & we realized we were just too

naked, two shit stagehands in some clumsy,


            don’t-give-a-fuck re-enactment

of two hostages bound & gagged until our

two bodies remembered that it was all


            a love show. “Love.” Scribbled over

a thousand times, utterly black, & no one

feeling sad for us.




Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Michael J. Pagán spent four years (1999-2003) in the United States Navy before (hastily) running back to college during the spring of 2004. He currently resides in Lake Worth, Florida, with his wife and daughter, where he continues to work on his poetry, short fiction, nonfiction and a collaborative novel. He is a co-founder of 100 Miles & Running – A Collective and also maintains a blog of all his published work: The Elevator Room Company.