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Richard Vargas: Poems from How A Civilization Begins

Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher, Poetry Editor

it’s all about the poem

this is how it begins
except there is no beginning
there never was

be the blank sheet
of paper
crisp and clean
pure and unmarked

be still and quiet
as letters appear
to become words
becoming images
invoking feelings passing
thru the void

be the space
between the
lines and stanzas
be the infinite

there is no “I”
the “me” does not exist
only the empty vessel

the beauty of
this moment
is every time
this is read
the energy
expands beyond

this is where it ends
except it never ends
be still
be quiet
it happens
it is


the death of myths

at year zero we wear
dirty rags worn threadbare
sitting around a dying fire
littered with emptied cans
of soup and beans
blackened in the ashes

looking up at the heavens
mystified and afraid
left alone to build anew
we watch a shooting
star streak across

no one remembers how
to make a wish


November 2016
doing laundry the saturday after the election

wondering if the numbing sensation
i wear these days like a second skin
will ever slough off
will i ever feel again

when on cue
as if she could read my thoughts
a stout and voluptuous black woman
standing at the table behind me
breaks out into song while folding
garments of all sizes from the several
piles of clothes rising before her

her sultry voice honed from a people’s history
hanging from the wrong end of a rope
sings of being a motherless child
needing guidance from heaven
and a strong shoulder to lean on
during the dark days ahead

so it happens here
in the most unexpected of places
gospel and blues wrapping around
the cold dead space in my chest
transforming it into a warm shelter
for my anger to lie down and sleep

this is the part of the poem
where i’m supposed to praise
our ability to take a hard sucker punch
and carry on the good fight
but the reality is this pool
of sewage and shit we made
for ourselves is sucking me down
i’m choking on tears
yet to be formed

the words on the page of the book
i hold in my hands begin to blur
and slide off the paper

i pretend to continue reading


Richard Vargas, How a Civilization Begins

How a Civilization Begins by Richard Vargas

How a Civilization Begins by Richard Vargas, upcoming from MouthFreel Press


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