May 18, 2022

Support the Institute of Chingazos—Buy Mustard Bonds Now

By Raul Ruiz

Abby Cheney, Understory, 2019


I was such a green and soft bridge when I started my work at the Libreria De Amplio Margen, a little bookshop on a street that time was beginning to erase from us. I never knew in those days what to call myself in front of the mirror, though there’s always always always a word for hunger in the tiny language of men (where all violence is mostly a lack of glue). 

And I’m not even too sure what a poem really is, for when my tongue touches the plum sky I shiver with nothing to say, nothing to give, but I’m telling you this is a poem because it is a promise buzzing.  

A promise that our lives can be a clean jar of many skies, blue and awkward boughs of sweet flowers dangling from their sleep. A promise that the warm ground of our tongues has one job, and the job is to find the stars and to name them all after laughter.  

Should I have been the moon that I love so much to yes! The questions of dreams? O you stupid idiot moron poetry, I’m doing this all for you.


I was a bookseller and I was a longish dance of awkward gravities, so I never arrived anywhere in full. And I was a twisty piece of sweet bread glimmering long words of sugar in communion with the chirps of morning stars. From my windows (which I carry with me everywhere) I could see the ridiculous spaces between all the hearts (where the sea is softest, and clinging to breath), and I could feel you all breathing in your sleep, dreaming of boats. All the children very frightened. 

I counted exact change from the drawer every morning and said softly a tiny word for the coins, the children receding. I swept the long width of the wooden floors, danced with the swirls of dust to know the apple roundness of the world. I priced used books in pencil. I displayed what I liked, what I thought would make more perfect trees in time. I looked everywhere for myself in the almond words of strangers, that my shape might go blam to join the joiners of everything.


Yeah my dude, I got the kind of mouth that children point to all the time, saying things like LOOKIT MA NOW I KNOW WHERE THE UNIVERSE GETS ITS SAD NAME FROM! I’ve got the kind of  mouth that can taste the autumn inside every kiss. The autumn and the deserts, the unincorporated territories, the amber honey of a heart leaping. Who knows, maybe I could have been a singer with a mouth like this one. Maybe instead of all those years scribbling endless question marks (for what else is a poem if not the design of new trees?) I could have written whole skies of music reminding the neighborhood mocosos about the cinnamon Always. Maybe if I was a singer the homies down the street wouldn’t have so many thorns sticking out of them, precious flowers of smoke. Maybe if I was a singer I could finally tell you everything everything everything everything everything.

Raul Ruiz is an interpreter who lives and works in San Francisco. He is the author of a forthcoming chapbook, Mustard, coming soon through Drop Leaf Press. A website of his writings is under slow construction.