As wind dries ocean to rock
we carry fragments of memory in our fault lines.
We hold faith in fingertips, rosary of fallen loves,
we carry cinder blocks to build floodgates,
to hold up walls, to fight wildly against doubt;
we carve pens out of I will never,
we draw the short straw and dive into the sea
as salt winds its way into a cavernous mouth. 

Salt honeys its way into a cavernous mouth;
And he reaches out for your hand, precious fear
companion and disciple shifting along stone
carving the whistle of one thousand life times
into the stalactite of tomorrow’s rising sun.
He swings his heart at a tower of ivory,
Day piling on top of day, a red sea of blood
part of surrender wades into the belly of now
Salt winds its way into a cavernous mouth. 

Salt winds its way into a cavernous mouth. 
And I cannot stop the seasons as they move
Like wind through the autumn leaves
my hands hopeless barriers to spring and all
grief is prosaic and long it shifts counter
clockwise as the news sinks into sinew
becomes a giant pinning us to the light
death slings a goliath stone shattering body
as salt winds its way into a cavernous mouth.




In the summer of
my eighth grade year,
I lifted DMX’s attitude into my voice
the world broke open
in the words between snare snap
and bass kick. 

Time took on quarter notes, peppered
skipping eighths into 
voice thickening into manhood.
Sixteens flew out 
my mouth to the sound of hip-hop.
Every spare moment

I would put pen to paper 
words from the back of class
numbered lines into bars, rhyme scheme
into rhythm. 
My whole body opened to the sound
of struggle captured.

Sometimes I made life hard
just to write, 
pressure feels at home 
in the walls of 
my stomach, learned to breathe 
from my diaphragm 

to fill it with air close to bursting.
After years I slowed
into the slow precision of academia,
honeyed in poetry
for the people my insides turned
into kites

that the slightest wind
would tear into song. 
It was fever, the way
reason would hide my soul
in college. But the back block burnished 
me into glowing cinder

my breath blew on a Vancouver
couch, stirred voice into
the belly of the black keys,
drummed prayer on the stations
of the cross, language has a way
of finding a mouth to fill



"The ode and the elegy are powerful forms for writers of color. They allow the poet to explore a long poetic tradition that often speaks well to the cultural and lived experience that Puerto Ricans face in the United States. To this end, these poems stand as a testament and transition period marking two very distinct and important periods in my life: accepting the power of grief to transform and finding my poetic voice in a contradictory relationship to academia."

Sevé Torres is a poet, writer, and adjunct professor. His work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Mead: The Magazine of Literature and Libations, Stay Solid! A Radical Handbook for Youth, and Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop. He currently works and lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.