Radames Ortiz
The Limestone Jungle
Other Poems by Radames Ortiz

Front Yards | Near the End | Alleys

I was friends with a black prostitute
Who hung by the Food City grocery store
On Jensen
And Bissonet

With genitals as green
As Cuban coca leaves

She taught me the frozen
Love of women

When I was 13, we talked
In downtown
Freight yards

About Grandpa Willie
Who hocked his medal from WWI
For some beef jerky
And Iron Eagle

About little Ray
an old pimp
Who beat her
While asleep

She vowed never to be
Vulnerable again

Louisiana abuela
And gumbo

Cover our words
Like moths untouched
By light

We remain,
Adobe ruins,
On cement fields
Gleaming like black water

Clinging to her
Fragile voice
And worn-out tits

I became historian
Of Caribbean sunsets
And Baton Rouge voodoo

On the outskirts
Of Tejas
She whores her
Way toward Memphis gold

Where African stories
Are rewritten on
Plastic milk crates

Donde el sol
Heats the backs of
y Dixie women

Away from
The limestone jungle
And dying barrio

Radames Ortiz is the author of a chapbook of poems, Below the Surface, which was illustrated by artist Tiziano D. Hernandez. His poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Azimuth, Barriolife.com, Fusion Ink, 2 River View, Adirondack Review, The Mesquite Review, among other journals. His awards include the Fabian Worsham Award for Poetry and the Megaera Award for Poetry.

He is the editor of both The Bayou Review, the literary journal for the University of Houston-Downtown and the online journal Coyote Magazine: Bringing Literature and Art Across Borders.

All contents copyright The New Journal, 2001.