Vincent Toro

Constanza Alberione-Chano, 2009, acrílico sobre mdf, 34 x 46cm


A circular path is carved through your front yard.

Pink sinkholes gather in your medicine

cabinet. You exalt busted blenders like sophisms

scrawled by retired scholars.

Your life has become a shy puzzle,

a canyon of foreclosures,

an abandoned fish market.


The world has accused you of not being a world,

of loving meaningless songs,

and you have responded by raising your children to unravel

spools of red tape across cities of wax.

The promise of a guilt-free purchase

congeals like gum

beneath a wooden school desk.


The world has accused you of not being a world.

You retort with an acceptance speech

scripted by beautiful gangsters. You live under

the thumb of contracts hoisted

like minarets. Landslides court you

with a hospice of deserted

checkout counters and comic strip altars.


Your young lungs constrict in the presence of cedar and ash.

The world has accused you of not being

a world and you respond by offering your guests

sliced cheese and snow globes.

You prod them about their holiday plans.

Your path is littered

with toll booths and subpoenas.


You dig shallow trenches around the kitchen table.

Sub-contractors install a wall of plaster

teeth in your bathtub.    The sea has divorced you

and taken the dog. The world

has accused you of not being a world,

of unhearing the voices

that hold together the seams


of your jacket, and you have responded

with despondent sighs, the kind of sigh

that makes orphans of widows.

Soon enough you will inherit

the pollen of a thousand uprooted gardenias

as you wait for the sunlight

to learn your nickname.




Sorta Rican Book of Dreams (Free Sample version)

-With human hands that poke you when you try to type means you will forgive yourself
for a mistake you never had the sense to make.
-Singing to you like Hector Lavoe means that your oldest daughter will grow up to become
the Director of Shrubbery at a bankrupt amusement park.

-Crawling on the hood of your car means you will inherit a vast collection of incomplete maps.
-Swimming in a bowl of soup means you will forget your wife’s birthday after you forget
that you never married.

-Eating one while a chimpanzee folds your laundry means the IRS will mistakenly pronounce you dead and offer your mother a tax refund they’ll later ask her to return.
-One with feet that chases you through a botanica means that your wardrobe is outdated.

-Gigantic blueberry pies that disappear and reappear at random means that a building will be renovated on the south side of your block.
-A pear pie left out in the middle of a superhighway means a dead relative wants back the bottle of Presidente they gave you last Christmas.

-Sinking in quicksand that smells like burnt cauliflower means that on your wedding night the photographer will forget to remove his lens cap while capturing the kiss.

-Painted to resemble a city beach means that you will get a big promotion for a job that doesn’t pay you.
-With the furniture on the ceiling means that you will receive an honorary degree for your research on the sleeping patterns of superstar DJ’s.
-A classroom the size of a football field (known by gringos as a soccer field) where the school janitor makes fun of you means that you will win an all expenses paid vacation to Tucumcari, New Mexico.

-A squirrel carrying a balloon with the face of Emma Goldman on it means that a calamity of bow ties will be left in your glove box the evening after next.

-A glass of water means you want to quit your job to become a licensed figment of the imagination.
-A muddy pond means you want to quit your job to become a licensed figment of the imagination.
-An ocean means you want to quit your job to become a licensed figment of the imagination.
-A plastic pool means you want to quit your job to become a licensed figment of the imagination.
-A single teardrop means you want to quit your job to become a licensed figment of the imagination.




Fibonacci ekphrastic for “The Birth of a City” by Angel Rodriguez-Diaz

is made
of burnt leaves
and woodpecker wings.
Decades levitate the counters
you scrubbed. Echinacea engraved across your breast grows
without roots to bind them. You breathe unwashed linens, never ask for keys to the convent.
is scaled
down to match
your expectations.
Expelled from the geometry
of myth, rumor becomes crown and mask. You beautify
chicken wire and cracked drywall with heirlooms from Aztlan. What you possess you have reared.
is strewn
with letters
home, dried apricots,
dented pick-ups, and tired men
who work too long and drink too hard. Cedar ash congests
the lungs you use to blow out virgin candles bought at the neighborhood botanica.
is marred
by borders
that become a sieve
of history, straining the wild
from the willing. Missions and malls encroach your sun swathed
villitas where flowers battle and murals proliferate like thirsty brushfires.



Recursion Sonata for Piano and Feather Duster
Pink water above,
 black sky recedes into
tilted highways and crimeless alibis.
Charred fingers prod at stained-glass eyes
confusing machine language for serenades.
Brokers and dealers wander inside
their own heads and disappear, hire
bargain basement seers to reveal
colors undiscovered. Illiterate scholars parade around
circus tents of obscure
facts made obsolete by
fiction addicts. Children rear
their parents to become a bazaar of scuffed
   mirrors hiding from
the scrutiny of other mirrors.
They are
once they declare themselves
defenseless, defenseless
once they declare themselves
They are
the scrutiny of other mirrors,
mirrors hiding from
their parents to become a bazaar of scuffed
fiction addicts. Children rear
facts made obsolete by
circus tents of obscure
colors undiscovered. Illiterate scholars parade around
bargain basement seers to reveal
their own heads and disappear, hire
brokers and dealers to wander inside
confusing machine language for serenades
charred. Fingers prod at stained-glass eyes,
tilted highways, and crimeless alibis.
Black sky recedes into
pink water above.

panting. sighing. an ankle angled over a thigh. you blush.      a rush. lips spread like wings of a pigeon. skin harvested. fields plowed. a partly cloudy afternoon. a disrobing. an uneasy feeling. an unexpected heat. sweat beads like prayer beads. an imperfect curvature. a voluptuous wall. a matchstick’s red head rubbed on flint. an intent gaze. unattached. a nose entrenched in a chin. lotion applied to a calf.         a calf slaughtered for the feast. a secret drawn in a fleshy fold. a promise unattached. a wrist rotated counterclockwise. a quivering. a trinket falls to the fall. two bells conjugated like a verb. your mercurial poise. a feline pose. lock and key joined. an unhinged door opened twice. oasis. water lapped by a dog’s tongue. silent rhythm. a heartbeat out of synch. an eyelash sculpture like a lone peacock. four legs woven into a wicker basket. sliding. ungraceful pirouettes. buttons sewn onto a turquoise vest. clipped nails and clipped beaks. concurrent currents of parallel streams. a distant pulse. subliminal sucking. breathe from a laugh, resurrected. your cheeks, pillows. a sliding door. a cracked inkwell. a cupped hand mistaken for as a safety net. a fumbling. a rescinding.

a whisper.
a squeeze.
a trembling.

a treble clef. a cleft heart, unattached. a broken circle. a mountain interrupted by
a valley. attached. unattached. attached. unattached. an attaché case stuff with ripe plums. a scent ascending. a symphonic moaning. a phone disconnected. a flexion. affliction. a tension. extension. torque and sweet thunder. a clenched fist. a bit lip. candle wax on a dead victrola. a flood. a flushing. a draught. an opening.      a closing unrelated. cracked eggs on a kitchen floor. a well-timed seizure. a departure. the singed cuff of a smoking jacket. two car radios playing the same station. a refraction. an unfurling. an unmasking. a question left unasked. a contraction. a contradiction. an unveiling. a cleansing. a becoming. a breath, unattached. a death, unattached. a thumbprint on a pelvis. a promise, unattached. a bosom, unattached. a diamond heist hatched. a grape plucked. an orange, peeled. a puddle in the driveway. a pillow wrung. unattached. a fugue hummed. a trail of pink silt. unattached. a torpor. a pelt. a moth and a bruised flask. a singing matroshka. a riddle planted in a blue belly. a summons. a bewilderness. a plate of dried figs. a lost earring. an ebbing. an echo. a tremor.

An oil painting
In the den
Waiting to be hung.

* *

Image: Constanza Alberione, “Chano” (2009), courtesy of miau miau

ToroVincent Toro is a Puerto Rican poet, playwright, and educator living in the Bronx. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Recent publications include poems in Chorus (MTV Books), The Waiting Room Reader II (CavanKerry Press), and Kweli Literary Journal. His play, 21, is now showing at Repertorio Español in New York. Vincent’s path in verse and on the stage is lit by the legacy of experimental and politically charged poets from Latin America. He is currently intoxicated with the words of Raúl Zurita, Roberto Juarroz, Salgado Maranhão, and Daisy Zamora.

Published on November 20th of 2013 in Poetry, Tongue Ties.

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