Born in Santo Domingo, and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Octavio Gonzalez is currently working on a second poetry series, and is also writing a graphic novel.

Educated at Midwood High School and Swarthmore College, he’s been published in Patterns, Small Craft Warnings, and received first prize in Fiction from the National Organization of American PEN Women, in 1992 and 1993.

Four Poems by Octavio Gonzalez


there he sits, in a raggedy wool coat.
and he sulks, sipping tomato juice from a straw
stuck between his big red cheeks.

once he said, my biggest fear is that I
will be associated with a monster
and you see him, glum, sinking in a red armchair

encircled by smoke and ladies that rouge
the night away, arms white as flour.
Friedrich you’re too sly, slithers the one, Truth,

ballooning towards him in a great white dress.
the other one, slightly less voluptuous, but just
as slippery: Fate, pretty as can be, in a bright yellow

pantsuit. performing: the chorus of Greek Muses.
at the other side of the bar, Plato and Socrates
snicker, and point to the smallish man with a moustache.


underneath one big blue sky wrapped in
cellophane, in the snowbird mountains
lost without a companion.

love is a tricycle,
the buddhist version of a triangle:
where you sit, male odalisque, my

imagination. picture the rustle
of yellow leaves, backed by pink
and red rock, and a sky bluer than that.

my friend on the other side
whose tongue i’ve tasted in every
vernacular, shuffles his eyes

toward mine. they do not rest; like a cat
pounces on top of its prey, posed to play
a little game -- using you and i as the bait.

let’s be friends again,
the wind whispers longingly.
altitude under my feet, hiking among

mormons, praying in the light of day.
he tastes like you, that one growing
beard stubble, red-eyed -- gorgeous.

he has nothing to say of his fears
only the skin we’re in allows me to say:
the light passes through the hallway,

i dream of a sky marred by two ravens
flying in unison. you, my friend
on the other side of the atlantic

coasting on pride and quickness.
you fly away, already re-arranged
your life assumes the change in season.


a world
air tight
spinning bright
the backs of six
the turtles
are each crowned,
their heads
like a ring
our globe

and spins.
in the old story
each turtle
was older
than any
god, having
the uncertainty
of the big bang
while their noses
the beginnings
of time

time’s wings
made from
crispy dried
purple roses
purple dried stems
held onto
by the teeth - if
you could say
these old
turtles had any
to begin with
their crowns
made of tin


here you go again, down the road
as it stretches, pulls like a tight
shirt, collarbone to cotton.

has it ever happened to you
that sudden
inexplicable recoil
from the precipice - what they call
love, sometimes, like a pattern
a tapestry.

during these moments
your friend’s eyes
reflect through his eyelashes
and you swoon, wishing the whole
rainbow in that person’s smile
in the depth of his eyes.

you learn, and you learn
and you loosen your tongue
towards a stranger
whose own tastes as warm

as apple pie. you both
move on, like a still photo.

your love is eternal and frozen.
the cake is baking
you can smell it, like you can smell
the concrete floor
during a late summer’s
afternoon rain; and you

think that spring is the only time
there is. and yet - so soon
did summer come, like a thief
he steals all your belongings.
you are naked and free
at the beach.