Impromptu Salon for Amal’s Class, Virtual Ottawa, Fall 2021

you say the ocean is the world’s toilet
and you’re not wrong, but
toilet or cradle of life, it was a gift you gave me
that day in Florida, when you sat on the beach, fully clothed,
sand on your jeans, and watched me float for hours
on the tide, my ears full of watersound
my eyes alive with sky, flotsam at peace.
I was in danger, like any human in water, but not
in peril, and afterwards you bought a towel
to dry me, and said nothing as I walked barefoot
to our rental car–even though bare feet scare you,
even though any little bruise on my skin
is the world’s end to you, the death of a thousand cuts.

I’m always a little frightened of the woods
but that doesn’t stop me going there, or the great gift
of green silence, as I try to watch a million leaves
tremble individually in 360°, until my mind dissolves, briefly.
And if a tent near the railroad tracks spurs my heel
and if lostness overtakes my senses (even in this
urban park where no one really can be lost),
and if I fear every stranger I meet on the path
still, I go to the woods, wearing my best walking shoes.
I walk into the woods, so that I may emerge again,
with eyes a little wider, in wild wonder,
as I carry my wilderness away with me like sand in my sock.

My night moods grow darker, but I know to name them now.
Play games to propitiate my frantic grasp at all this slippage
(also which news not to read) (also which subjects to avoid).
Lately, we both notice how I calendar and organize, worry through tomorrow
to stave the night away, and you must say softly:
not right now, not right now.
I need, in night moods, the blood transfusion of fiction,
another brain injected right into my brain,
other worlds than this, other thoughts than mine.
Is it cowardice or medicine? Is it, simply, survival?
Better to face the dragon and slay it, or sneak away sideways,
soft-footed and hobbit-like, invisible, muttering riddles?
My night moods grow darker. But I grow slyer–
and am not yet devoured.

We drew four cards for Amal El-Mohtar’s Literature Class, but chose only three to write about. I chose all but the “Rayo” (Lightning) card.

More about these wonderful cards and the game they belong to:

Follow #NegociosInfernales on IG, the game forthcoming from Outland Entertainment. Also look for updates on Carlos’s and my shared blog hernandooney.com!

Follow our Kickstart Upcoming Projects page for Negocios Infernales!

A Little More about 7 Suits of Destino:

(Suits depicted above from top left, clockwise: Sangre, Rayo, Lágrimas, Carne.)

🧜🏾‍♀️ Lágrimas: The Tears of Life
Things break. The world is full of melancholy. But tears can be joyful. Pain can save us. Our insignificance is both woe and comfort. And one never knows what strange secrets the unfathomable seas may hold.


🐷 Carne: The Meat Of Life
Carnality, desire of the flesh, consumption, gluttony. The triumph of self-interest over community. The instinctual and the impulsive. Whatever else we are, we are always our bodies.


❤️ Sangre: The Blood of Life
Loyalty, affiliation, kith, kin, connection. Sacrifice and duty. Some ideas are worth dying for. The desire to be moral, even though you fall short so very, very often. 


💀Hueso: The Bones of Life
We all must perish. Time is relentless, aging and weakening inevitable. What shall be your legacy? Focus on the big picture. Stay strong: until you can’t. And then, when it’s time, die well.


🌬 Aire: The Breath of Life
Intellect, religion, philosophy, art. Dreams, plans, life’s vicissitudes. Fate, ever capricious, blows us to and fro. Rarefied beauty; unspeakable nightmares. And at the center of it all, your soul.


⚡️Rayo: The Spark of Life
Raw power, elemental forces, energy, electricity, fire. The engine of both miracles and cataclysms. The hidden reserves raging in every living thing. And sometimes, those reserves are unleashed: with wild, unpredictable results!


🛸 Espacio: The Spaces Between and Beyond

The immensity of the cosmos humbles us. But if we continue to build marvelous tools and ask hard questions, perhaps someday we will better understand both the universe and our own recondite hearts.

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