Aubade: The Monday Bargain

by Patrick Rosal

If only to be still If only an hour
If only your bare leg touching mine
If only one window’s worth of light off the cold bricks to warm us
If only our stank morning breath If just to kiss your eyes
If just that and nothing more
If only the wicked hiss of wind to rattle the steel door in its jamb
If only the gentle stirring of gray water If only to dip my hands wrist
deep in it
If only another history written without the color of your skin
If only skin and no more
If only to lie down in a room of vaulted dark sealed so tight you become
the dream inside the skull of some ancient being or one not yet
born among rows of cane and guns laid down for good
If only the smell of denim and sex If only to exile sadness
and if only for now
If only the thick tendons of one burly husband’s neck
If only blisters and bloody wood
If only the heart bulged by kick drum and bass
If only the names we craft from sadness
If only the names we scratch out And if only we shout instead
If only the children coming If only their first curse If only their final
sky first clear
If only one man to hear his dead wife’s voice If only one to raise a
goddamned good big glass of tequila and just one milagro to burn
his throat back to baritone and raw silk
If only this and nothing less
If only poems like roaches crawling into the rooms of your childhood If
only nothing to kill them
If just drawn grids and digits and hooks and if only the several minds
they make sane
If only vast black mirrors cast far over the city at night
If only the gods we push up into them — their arms full of our best gifts
If only a way for them to restore love where we’ve ruined it

Not here My sweetest name Not here in our bed in early morning
where we wake slow to tell each other we’ve dreamed of things
that cannot kill us that only fill us to our thumbs with laughter

If only laughter If only one brief burst of it If only the last monster to
tumble out of my mouth
If only the stampeded garlands of dead kings If only empires and their
engineers If only their serpentine mosaic paths If only the horses
who shat freely on those paths marching
If only the garments of slaves only the seamstress of burlap only a
chorus of secrets passed from mouth to mouth in a silo or
boathouse or subway tunnel
If only that and nothing more than a wish to slip into the most
mundane mysteries of the day
As if the day and the mystery of the day can only end at twilight
as if we couldn’t open up our whole bodies
so that another century might begin.


Patrick Rosal is the author of My American Kundiman, winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award, and Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive, winner of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Members’ Choice Award. His poems and essays have been published widely in journals and anthologies including Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, Brevity, andLanguage for a New Century. In 2009, he was awarded a Fulbright Senior Scholar Research Fellowship to the Philippines. He teaches creative writing at Drew University’s Low-Residency MFA and at Sarah Lawrence College.