under the plumeria tree,
under the sun, slid out
then asunder some ants, some stones,
some loam and moss under
torn cuticles then between thighs
and toes spread apart, spread
up, spread out, one summer.
then, one summer, came another,
laid out on the leaves, sweat
dripping down his brow, then navel,
collecting in beige clefts
where the roots were wet and his hips
were wet too, his torso
stretched to sinew, bones made to break.
and break they did under
the plumeria tree, among
the roots choked by red weeds
and black stones and yellow blossoms
spread out like fingertips
like his legs spread up, melting in
spreading summer light.
a family legend
she bent double over bathroom sink on christmas eve clearing her eyes of makapiapia that lined her sharp-edged cheekbones and then felt her stomach lurch as if it knew what was to come as if it also looked to the yard through dusty jalousies where children played invisibly in spite of her gaze as she sighed remembering that no one came to her during the night in her dreams like she hoped to tell her what should be done after all she could not sleep so did not dream as she did before daily life was sifted through sand and bits of glass and sharp stones so all that was left then was to think of the children a moment that passed like all other things and then of options that were not hers before finally she tipped head back skyward to cleanse her insides with an antiseptic she knew would do the trick finally judging herself too weak for this life though I pray she was too strong
Originally from Oahu, Hawaii, Jacob Aplaca lives in New York City where he teaches at Hunter College and pursues a PhD in English Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. His poetry has appeared in PANK Magazine, Yes Poetry, and Impossible Archetype. He also has writing featured on McSweeny’s Internet Tendency.
–Art by Giuseppe Milo