Radames Ortiz
Excerpt from KotaPress Poetry Anthology Volume 3, 2003

A Man Alone

They said he led
an interesting life.
That he earned a red
badge of courage on
his first tour of Vietnam
& the metal cracking of
M-16's still shakes his brittle bones.
That he can remember
Neil Armstrong tap-dancing
on moon craters while
Apollo 11's blue sparks
burned off the morning fog.
That the bobbing & weaving
of JFK's head bleeds into
his every step. Johnny Cash
& Hank Williams gave him
a rhythm all his own.
From the dusty cornfields
of New Hampshire to the
blackjack smiles of Las Vegas,
he sang songs more breathtaking
than Sinatra's "Old Devil Moon."
From Montana to Texas
to New York City, he
hoodooed railroads with a
captain's hat & polyester coat
swinging his arms as if
reaching for something
more than equilibrium,
more than just holding the
sky into place like a picture
in Mama-Dee's Kitchen. But
now he's withered & slower
than a wounded jackrabbit beneath
a bush of farkleberry & green ivy,
a ghost slipping back inside
the ground, driving trouble
across the river, across the brink.
No jitterbug. No moonshine.
Half-alive on a sheath of skin
where a red-headed woman kneels,
whispering his song to him
while the world outside
begins to quietly let go.


Author Bio
Radames Ortiz is the author of a chapbook of poems, Between Angels & Monsters. Founding editor of Coyote Magazine: Bringing Literature and Art Across Borders and former editor of the Bayou Review, the literary journal for the University of Houston Downtown. His work has appeared in numerous publications including, Exquisite Corpse, pacific Review, Gulf Coast, The Amherst Review, and the Rockhurst Review. Winner of the 2000 Fabian Worsham award for Poetry and fellowships from the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets at Bucknell University and Voices Writing Workshop at the University of San Francisco. He is also a recipient of a 2002 Individual Artist Grant from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County. He currently resides in Houston, TX where he is Marketing Associate for Arte Publico Press.