P. Scott Cunningham
José Fernández

The ocean never breaks. It opens

like a fist, rolling us finger to finger,

taking the outstretched hand of the land

and pulling, gently, like a parent.


In September, nights are warmer than the days.

The moon burns like a second sun.

The fish, mistaking humidity for home,

swim up to the surface to breathe


where the three of us hold poles like

before we held sheets stitched together

where the three of us are never thirsty

anymore, but you’d never know it


by how we gaze into the ocean

the same ocean that tried to kill us

but instead buried us in this city

where we’re force-fed champagne


like a torture in which you die from being free.

Most cities are places you leave.

Miami leaves you. Looking back across the bay

the city is a campfire collapsing


into embers, the hook of a song

falling out of range, a crown of green

Presidentes showered into place

by ice cubes stacked like balloons.


Like our city, we have nowhere

to be, no schedule, no curfew.

If the earth misses us, it’s only because

the earth is always turning away.


Over and over we stab the hearts

of things just to drag them slowly below

the surface, through the dark of salt,

begging for them to be torn off and eaten.


We worship the moon, bending

our foreheads to the deck. We crush up

memories of home as offerings to the wind.

No one loves you as much as an island


but no one has ever loved us as much

as we love ourselves right now, at night,

surrounded by engine sounds and a trail

of rainbows that means we’re leaving


behind everything we brought with us

so when the channel tosses us

onto the rocks, the only thing we have left

to spill is the wine of our bodies.


None of it even makes it into the water.

We love the sea that much.

We could never blame her, not even a little,

and who is José if not the sea’s first-


born son? If not the moon but brighter?

Who else could hold the wheel in place?

Snap his fingers and lay our bodies

whole cloth on the other shore,


the shore that isn’t sinking, the one

that will never trade us, or ask us

to wear the flags of our enemies.

A pitcher is one who prophets.


Who digs the air into a cave.

A brother is the one who dies first.

A city is any place you love

that doesn’t remember your name.





Found In Volume 48, No. 03
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P. Scott Cunningham
About the Author

P. Scott Cunningham is the author of Ya Te Veo (University of Arkansas Press, 2018). He is the founder and director of O, Miami, a non-profit organization that celebrates Miami, FL through the lens of poetry, and the co-founder & executive editor of Jai-Alai Books, a regional publishing imprint.