Reach for the Stars

Here is a photograph I never took:
I am holding a woman in my arms
as if it were for the last time.
Her half smile holds a secret.
In the background, the Bay Bridge
is a bodybuilder—outstretched and posing.

Here is a dream I haven’t had:
I am an astronaut in the desert,
studying fauna that survives with little water,
when I notice prickly-pear fruit as bright as a red sun.
I take off my helmet and reach for it
as a stream of tumbleweeds rolls past me.

Here is an omission from the Rogers Commission:
Reality did not take precedence.
The wings of emotions were clipped in midflight,
and passion exploded into a million pieces,
when a housewife was left home alone.
Nature cannot be fooled.

Here is something I was never told:
You can take a risk as big as the universe.
You can reach for the stars–
you might even touch them–
But you can also die alone in space.
(Stardust to stardust).


On her only day off from work,
my mother rises from her bed
while the moon and sun switch shifts.

She wakes up her only daughter,
and with arms full of flowers, they travel
about five miles to my father’s grave.

Dad was a good provider to his children;
Worked every damn day of his life.
But, to my mother, he was not faithful.

I found it hard to understand why she feels
so compelled to honor this ritual
years after my dad has paid any of the bills.

One day, I found myself writing poem after
poem to a woman that was gone and I wondered
if I had inherited the same kind of madness.

I look through my journal and see a graveyard
that I built myself with pen and ink.
I don’t want to leave her flowers anymore.

Nikolai Garcia grew up in South Central Los Angeles; currently works with homeless youth in the East Hollywood area; and has been sleeping in Compton for the last 15 years. He has been published in the anthology, “The Coiled Serpent” (Tia Chucha Press) and in literary journals like Huizache, Dryland, and Statement. With the assistance of DSTL Arts, he is currently working on a manuscript for his first chapbook. He sometimes makes friends on social media: @HelloKommie

Featured image by Karissa Lang