José Luis Gutiérrez





Carpe Diem

Theirs was one of those impossible pairings,
say that of a seamstress with a rhinoceros.
He’d been contemplating sending his diet
into arrears with a plate of duck confit
when her red dress swam into the park
like a conflagration. His blood sang a dithyramb
and he looked at the mallards for moral
support except the indiscretion of his culinary
longings had immediately sent them packing.
So in the dire hope of arresting her charms
he made like the strangest, most exotic
tree in the fruitful behold, curving
his spine lordotic and entwining one leg
around his neck like a ficus or strangler fig.
She proceeded to sit indian-style at his feet
and produced a sketchbook and pencil from
her eco-friendly canvas bag. She set about
capturing his likeness in a blurred frenzy of strokes.
It was midsummer and the sun was a screaming red skillet.
His body’s prodigious ventilation system broke out the
waterworks. He squinted past the Victoria Falls
his hirsute eyebrows had become to catch
a glimpse of her efforts.  To his shock and dismay
she’d not drawn him or anything resembling the alien
botanical specimen he’d hoped to impersonate.
Instead she’d drawn a fish. To be more precise a carp,
whiskers and all. So true was her drawing to form,
there was even a ripple running along the tailfin as her
hypothetical fish negotiated a particularly rough current.
He grew madly indignant.  Then something terrifying
happened. He began to lose command of his motor functions.
He could no longer snap out of this ridiculous posture
to voice his outrage at this enchantress he’d gone to such  
lengths to entice. As this Grand Guignol barreled
its course he noticed her face grew ever smaller and her
dark brown hair had sprouted pigtails. Her flowing red dress
began to shrink and eventually became a pinafore.
Before he knew it his own body went limp and he felt
the wind course through him as water through
a stream.  His limbs grew fused to his body
and the dyes and fabric of his English-tailored
orange suit spilled into the sinewy breeze,
were soon absorbed by  his form which was  no longer
Flap Cornelius Suckling III but an orange carp.  
Even his mouth proceeded assiduously to suck in air.
He felt he was drowning but instead witnessed his body
rise weightless above the profuse green of the park.
The young brunette was now a small child holding the nylon
string that controled his every movement. He flapped
drunkenly to and fro in the thermals as she concurrently
tugged and fed the line. If there was one last cri de coeur
he could utter to this cunning lass as he climbed the sky
of her whim it’d be in Latin though he doubted she’d
understand let alone hear him through the roaring wind.



José Luis Gutiérrez is a San Francisco-based poet. His work has appeared in The Cortland Review, DMQ, Eratio, Jet Fuel, Margie, Juked, Otis Nebula, among others.