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Ray Gonzalez


After forgetting to respond to a solicitation to submit poems to an anti-war anthology

Piano Player by Ray Gonzalez


To tear the rooster apart, the young boy whistles in the air for a weapon from his mother and father.  To dismember the rooster, the boy touches what is hidden in his pant’s pocket and leaves the house.  To destroy the rooster, the boy decides to walk a street.  When he comes to an alley, he enters as a girl. To pull feathers out of his mind, the boy leans against the wall and demands the false teeth of his father.

To tear the rooster apart, a heavy metal culture emerges in the Middle East, thousands of young Muslims forming rock bands and worshipping Black Sabbath, Metallica, Scorpion, and other U.S. metal monsters.  Huge festivals are held in Morocco, Beirut, and Barisa, thousands of death metal Muslims screaming in defense of jailed metal heads.  Posters with the rooster symbol announce in huge red letters, “Music is the weapon of the future.”

To fry the rooster in the air, the boy of tomorrow darkens his face with the ashes of his mother.  To taste the first shred, the young man spray paints pictures on the brick walls of the alley, the poem, at last, coming to life.  To burn his tongue, the young man whitewashes everything and gropes his way out of the city.  To eat the rooster and leave bones for future sons, an old man throws up tiny hens that have pecked at his belly.


About the writer:
Ray Gonzalez is the author of sixteen books of poetry including the newly published Suggest Paradise (University of New Mexico Press). He received a 2018 Poetry Fellowship from the Library of Congress and has won three Minnesota Book Awards. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota where he recently retired. Click on the title The Book of Whispers to explore more of his work in the PDF chapbook available now as a free offering from O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press.

Image: Piano Player by Ray Gonzalez (contemporary). Ink on paper. 9 x 12 inches. 2012. By permission.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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