Bad Survivalist: Zedekiah Gonsalves Schild
Good in a Crisis
I can elevate that glassfoot
above your heart
apply unflinching pressure
to that chain of wounds
that began with bitter
cactus rind balm for the sun.
I am good in a crisis
a Swiss army knife
of bullshit I know / the plastic
seat of a squad car feels like
it has space for cuffs and wrists,
It’s a tease / It does not / But does
smell like stress positions / methadone
clinic lines / on a wet Saturday,
I am a Swiss army knife. Unreliable
narrator / folding scissors fish hooked
hostile architecture / chair-fenced
tunnels / nylon tent poles.
In a crisis, I use a concrete-inside voice
flat tuned to the pitch of an E.R. nurse
hunting veins in a sweat-wrist for fluid.
I see exits / take temperatures,
unfold each mishap an instant ahead
to forestall it / That now
that is always just a moment behind,
it’s risky / two out of five stars at best.
In English, I Bounced Down
But now I am good in a crisis when
there is little else but the ache
of now, the contralateral impulse grind
of mustard seed, nerve end thunder
Like a corner-store firework
I know the report will come
but I flinch and bird-scatter in surprise
when I slip off / two stories up
Roof wet, sheathing, I hung from my hammer
claw a heartbeat before gravity
kicked me / I heard Rojelio yell
Go for the bushes!
in English—I bounced down.
On account of rain we called it,
I walked left ear hot
with ringing / the slick rain
and blood cinnamon tang
set my guts fast in the morning cold
my wool socks, rolled neatly for sleep.
Zedekiah Gonsalves Schild is a disabled, multidisciplinary artist who lives and practices in San Francisco, California. His work has appeared in The Seattle Review, The Burnside Review, HUBBUB, The Portland Review, Forum, Lily Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He is a 2022 Carlos Villa Fellow at San Francisco Art Institute.