Two Bad Survivalisms by Zedekiah Gonsalves Schild

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.


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