A Poem to Behemoth




I gotta get my mind off the pulsing tightness in my chest
so my psychiatrist has asked me to think on the little things
like the snuff-colored lemons rotting in my fridge
or the squirrel my dog caught even though she has cataracts
or the giant black talking cat that is really a demon
who comes in the night to purr Satan’s true name
into Margarita’s down-covered ear. And I should say


that this is a carnival, and not of the travelling kind, rather
one where the naked skeletons do a clumsy danse macabre
and transform a plain county fair into the Garden of Earthly
What I mean is I’m in shambles, I can’t think
straight because all the new thinking about loss resembles
all of the old thinking about loss, inasmuch as it sucks
and we keep on losing. But this Giant Black Cat is a whiz


at chess, and I never found out how the brother of this woman
I was seeing died, even though he died five years ago. I never
met him, nor could I stop sleeping with many other women
while I was with her, and I feel guilty because I am still so
curious to know. There’s a trick I’ve heard of. If you want
to talk about something large that resists all the frames
you try to fence it with, focus on the little things, like how


you’ve never kissed a woman with a tongue ring,
or how African Elephants can distinguish between
different human languages and even know which ones
are spoken by people more likely to kill them. Little
things, like that engagement ring you never got back,
or how the dead skin fell off her turnip-red stomach after
she fell asleep in the sun, or how your father took you
and your brother out to a bar last Christmas in Santo
Domingo. A shitty 80s cover band was playing and
all his sleazy balding middle-aged friends were there.


That night he picked up a 36 year old woman named Daisy who
wore red lipstick. He almost went home with her, even though
two of his five sons were present, even though he is still
very much married, even though he is 58. I keep losing


the little things like pieces of plastic in the sea, and the elephants
wise as they are, all keep getting shot for their ivory, and I
can’t stop what my father started; it’s inside of me somewhere
like a lonely Russian novelist in his basement lit only by an oil
lamp, scratching away at a novel that will never be recognized
by the totalitarian regime, even if inside that novel there lives a woman
called Margarita who refuses to despair or betray her lover, and who
is anointed hostess at Satan’s Great Spring Ball, and who finally,
one winter evening, charms even the great black demon cat, Behemoth.




Cover of TLR: Granary. Guest artist Ferdinando Scianna. Used by permissions

Mario Alejandro Ariza is a Dominican immigrant to the US. His poetry can be found in places like The Cincinnati ReviewGulf Coast, and The Raleigh Review, and his journalism appears in places like The Atlantic and The Miami New Times. His current project is a book-length nonfiction work on sea-level rise and Miami titled Disposable City: Miami’s Doom and How To Avoid It.


“A Poem to Behemoth” first appeared in TLR: Granary