Two Poems by Michael Caylo-Baradi

These two poems by Michael Caylo-Baradi toe the line between rapture and rupture, the faultline in any city sanctioned by mythmakers as a factory for dreams to become radioactive. Here, the point of arrival is Los Angeles, where the intimate is nourished by a multitude in a dark room, scrambling for happiness in the green screen of the imagination. You are promiscuous with ambition by default in this town, but you hone that promiscuity in garden parties, keyboards, or the silence of rooms attuned for the scent of whispers, minted in the vagaries of love…

by: Michael Caylo-Baradi

Hotel Pacoima

They sink into each other’s arms again,
and feel each other’s mouth like it’s part of
a multitude. Earlier, a car-chase on
Netflix wanted them to drive around,
and cruise the moon into another
Friday night on San Fernando Boulevard.
There are many ways of moving
inward here. There are no rules of
penetrating the deserts of a body without
family in this country. The bedsheets
understand that. They are used to the
scent of whispers, acclimated in the vagaries
of love. The painting on the wall
appears to depict a city through the eyes
of fatigue and exhaustion. Perhaps
they belong to the face looking at
the window, looking away from the
room, waiting for something to happen, for
anything that feels total and immutable.


Smooth Criminal

I compose a garden party on my keyboard
everyday, and fill my music with souls
abducted from my neighborhood in Gary, Indiana
years ago. Diana was a bee from our yard,
hanging out on flowers like someone pollinating
backstage doors with unusual charm.
But Billie Jean was a special case; she was
a woman who loved subtraction and
division; she was the affair every man wanted,
before reducing their machismo into
something that will never happen to my
father. He was a charmer himself, and
loved to chat with the biggest smile at
the grocery store down the street, on
his way home from the steel mill. I guess
she had this thing that made men
feel brand new, like my Liberian Girl.
The family talked about her accent
all the time, which made us think of Africa,
a continent so alien as the rest of the
Midwest by now, since we were moving
to L.A. It was 1969. We bloomed into
garden parties in Hollywood. Then each
concert became a garden party. I
welcomed the pattern, and didn’t make
much of it, until it felt like a thriller
night. Now and then, I could deceive
the demons away with a new mask. Until
a tune so pure assaults me out of nowhere,
all of a sudden. And it feels like I’m born again.


Michael Caylo-Baradi is an alumnus of The Writers’ Institute at The Graduate Center (CUNY). His work has appeared in the Hobart, Kenyon Review Online, The Common (Online), The Galway Review, Galatea Resurrects, MiGoZine, Our Own Voice, Otoliths, PopMatters, New Pages, Ink Sweat & Tears, and elsewhere. After Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, he wrote a tribute to the King of Pop in PopMatters.

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