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3 poems by Joshua Garcia

Third Date Pastoral

Not apples. Not their bright red, already ripe with metaphor. Nor pears,

heavy-bottomed and eager to fall to the ground.

Perhaps loquat, I think to myself

as you drive us through ornamental trees lining Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.


you tell me, is the life force.

I pinch my wrist until blood rises to the skin like a kiss.

I am not concerned with the ontology of eros;

I am concerned with those who graft fruit bearing branches to the public

trees of San Francisco. How, by night, they cut

into the bark and insert the finger of a plum tree.

I pinch my wrist as if the more I feel, less exists

while you explain sex to me.

Grafting tip: “Be sure the cut surfaces are touching.”

Perhaps I’ll walk down Van Ness Avenue: incognito, a flower in my hair

and some leafy twig swathed in my pocket.

It isn’t sacred.

It isn’t? Have you read how if you open one tree to another, they become

the same thing?

The things I could do with a paring knife. How readily I could cleave myself

and render

all of this irrelevant.

“Once it heals, it connects,” Hui told the Los Angeles Times.

But you will not know that kind of giving. Not the gentle suckling,

nor the violence.


Erasure from Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke

I received your letter.

It has taken me this long to

forgive. I am traveling

because I need more than most:

some silence, solitude,

an unfamiliar hour.

Six weeks ago, time was still

hot with restlessness. It lay

upon us the weight of homelessness.


exhales laboriously,

sustained by things

which are

not ours.

There is not more beauty here than in other places.

Objects, which have hands

and no heart, move

into great basins—

large, spacious murmuring.

There are gardens,

and staircases,



Our attention is commanded by the aftersound

of a jet passing overhead.

Of the quiet anole who makes his bed

between the brick and my mailbox.

Of our yesterdays, too—

dandelions pointed

toward the source of their dispersal.

That I might arrive here

so close to a living,

wild thing: You, next to me, mammal

and unknowable as a forest.

I whisper a wish into the hair on your back.


Joshua Garcia lives and writes in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the College of Charleston and is an editorial assistant at Crazyhorse. He was a finalist for the 2019 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Ruminate Magazine, Nashville Review, and My Loves: A Digital Anthology.


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