by Austin Okopny
Below the city is another city.
Below the ground is the air.
Below the cockroaches are our children
gambling on a teener for a bonanza of void.
Behind the casinos are the vampires.
Behind my words are the Eyes of the Dead.
Your ears listen in the wind,
in the swaying palm trees and in the pigeons.
Your noses smell the lightning
that spiders out of the thunderheads.
You taste the caliche and the rain.
You see with Eyes of the Dead.
You are my hero and inspiration, and yet
I was always holding back, holding off.
As boys become men and family become strangers,
I wanted you to travel with me and see–
the worms now feasting on your eyes
and the eyes of the dead.
For you are there now, you must
know you were always meant for better things.
These words are for you in the Land of the Dead.
I love you, bro, even though I couldn’t stop
The City from eating you.
So I sprinkle tequila in the tunnels Underground,
and like how you now live Underground
with the earwigs and the mice, their eyes, too,
belong in the Land of the Dead.
Hummingbirds now drink the nectar of your spirit
and the turtles rejoice with you.
Caught between the sand and the sky,
between the fronteras and the fences,
Your eyes now see beyond the Land of the Dead
Austin is a formerly homeless, queer student originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. He currently works as a tutor at his college’s writing center and drafts grants on the side. In the past, Austin has worked as a homeless shelter organizer, a janitor, and a dishwasher. His work has been most recently published in the Works in Progress newspaper based out of Olympia, WA.
Artist: Pierre Belhassen