by Patrick Holian
Patrick Holian is a Mexican American writer from San Francisco, California, where he currently resides. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s College of California and a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, Black Warrior Review, Gigantic Sequins, Moon City Review, Yalobusha Review, Apricity Magazine, Salt Hill Journal, Bennington Review, and The Acentos Review. Patrick was a finalist in the 2019 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s contest, and a finalist for Michigan Quarterly Review’s 2021 Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize.
grace equals power times velocity times that one night a fox emerged from the fog,
a squirrel on its back, another in its jaws.
I am less a man, and more a conglomeration of dead skin cells and unpaid parking tickets.
a child somewhere? probably.
one spiritual advisor suggests the miniatures aisle in craft stores, that it helps us remember,
not childhood, but before.
let me unsubscribe right quick, it is a very punchable face, thank you, and oh, don’t forget
about that cerulean neon sign
from that abandoned warehouse, what did the sign say, eat shit and die, or no, it said chalice.
as a boy, he had a preternatural gift
for grieving, he grieved for the living, he wore grooves into his cheeks with all the tears,
but we all got used to it.
lemons, mesquite, and sex, what the room smelled like, in that order. ADVERTISEMENTS
WORK ON ME.
we never came to a conclusion, whether it was better to be free, or better to be untethered.
once, they built cities into the walls
of cities. I am extant, which is to say, the sound of keys jingling in a grocery store reminds me
of the dead, the smell of buckwheat
pancakes just after dawn reminds me of the dead, the raised hackles on a German Shepard
remind me of the dead, the moment
my canines shatter the glassy exterior of a candied apple reminds me of the dead. for a decade
I uprooted every rose bush in the city
and county of San Francisco, and each night I would shoot the ocean from the cliffs, and when
my task was complete, well,
I wish I could tell you I learned the secret to grace, but the truth is I didn’t learn a goddamned thing.