N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 3 :   S p e c i a l   E d i t i o n

L o n g   P o e m   M a s t e r p i e c e s   o f   t h e   P o s t b e a t s





  George Angel




for Fabio Angel Sánchez


riverbed beggars



on the wind

dances that

bring back


like flowers

on a tide,

a floating world

momentary and fair


First Skin


Stalled cars and crossing dogs,

bad luck bad luck bad luck.

A child with a guitar

in his hands,

the fear of walking away

into the dark.

The shadows walk

toward the child as he plays.


I tip between

the lines, the spaces

of the parking lot,

beneath the two towers

of the airport,

empty above the grass,

blue, the shape of which

is not worth mentioning.


A half moon of light

reflected into

a pocket.

My head full

of air, a cool

breeze across

                 the grass

and on, I hum

something that flutters,

prays, beneath

the dust-lidded

cupolas of geraniums.

I look up, skylight

petalled between towers,

and I tremble.


Falling body.

Falling body.

Will there be a third?

Dark-winged, humane.

Daisy spun.


The flowers are so pretty,

They’re purple and yellow,

And green are their leaves.

The little girl is pretty,

Blue are her eyes,

And brown is her hair.


A small figure, standing

at one side of an expanse

tender with catastrophe.

All the undulation,

all the damage

a lily pad can swallow

with its emeralding,

its floating bell of stillness

all around the unremarkable

shape of a man

shivering out his breathing,

not flying.


drip my thoughts

away from me,

and they grow out,

like a damselfly

extending its color backward,

like a pistil,

wings folded, kimono,




Second Skin


No pasarán, arán san san,

from a chapel

full of children.


Tennis is played

on a court.

Keep away from the pool’s edge.

Baseball is played

in a park.


Spun transparent

over rooftops,

an angel

with smudged wings

slips into things

and almost saved

from the slope

itself by  hobnail,

by the stencil

of a flower,

charges me

the coin


in my door

to remember it.


A knifepoint

touches wood

I fall down

a muddy incline.

Red soup with gin


Golden where

a peasant,

with a blue goat

in his arms,

helps me up

at the foot

of stairs

over closets,

doors between families,

up over me

I follow you

down stairs

over families,

doors between

closets, you billow

back behind me,

a mouthful

of smoke,

a thought

a moment ago,

a kiss

turned green

I walk

between stacks

of friuit boxes

the purple house

ripe from mountains,

bitten into

with time,

a bird’s call

dropping toward it


breathed with,

and then

the phone rings,

the child

hops on the bed,

a circling,

a tracing 

red fleck

riding flight.



Third Skin


The child on tiptoes,

her father nestles there

in a hole an acorn’s seedling.


She watches it tic toward heaven,

stretch to pluck down

her laughter, to hand her

her eyebrows, her wit,

her telescope.


Husk, the pistil

at the center of a ring

of strangers. Lifted,

his glasses, his watch,

put away. Angel,

his mouth open,

gone in fine weather.

A drop of sweat

a still sphere

suspended, murky.


An afternoon,

his sinewy arms,

his sparse brows long,

burnt leaves beneath stars

by now. Hush.

Roll and come

to a stop,

embraced by petals,

not green enough.

Here has left,

radiant at the tips

of stamens twining,

braiding a river

the wind extends.

Hull, where I laughed.



Fourth Skin


Shake off the sign.

Learn to float.

Hold service.

We run along the branches.


A child bounces,

then, suspended

in the spiderweb

of a morning broken,



with watered-down poisons,


flimsy betrayals,

make-believe wings,

the air so full of things

anyway leaves

tennis shoes

a glass of juice

an open car door

the not being

able to protect

even the folding

of his private hands.


A child bounces

and laughter leaves,

buds unheard,

branches out, dances

winged, flowering swoops

shattering skin on skin

in tiny pictures

poured into with looking.



Fifth Skin


A child holds a guitar

in her hands.

Thousands of candles,

Thousands of bells,

teeter topple totter

fall to roll along the grass.


Dust from red clay

waits to be repeated,

to be sung out

to be planted

too close together.


The sky wilts, head bent

in silence of little consequence.

The cars are stuck in streams.


Unkept the child

overgrows with visits,

the fog sealing

him away alone

among the green shards

of plane crashes,

of eucalyptus dollars

spent on falling,

spent on silvering slowly,

to then drop.



Sixth Skin


Bad weather bad weather bad weather.

Children run from an auditorium.

Children run toward an auditorium.


A princess flower

each was beguiled by

purples with sentiment.


But the moment doesn’t hue,

the moment doesn’t clot,

it can’t coagulate at all.

The wings don’t slip out

of the jar as easily

as they slipped in.


Funny that the shadow

beneath what is now

a stranger’s tree

wears rubber boots,

and would just as soon

not interrupt

the humming

in the garden.


Even belonging,

witnessing and knowing

are spent eventually,

like the trickling-out

of anxious water

into cold rooms

with damp walls,

into the perfumed air,

heavy with intentions.


All fruit sweetens

toward softness.

His mouth

was open.



Seventh Skin


A little sun between the lamps,

the sea, the old bell

says, It was prettier before,

the lower left hand

part of the picture.


His mouth was open

as he faded,

the glow left

more in the watcher

than in the bulb.


In the fading light

the river digs deeper

as it gets closer

to the sea.


Remains swirl

and catch in eddies,

deep enough now

to submerge me whole.


Robbed away,

mouth open

rinsing a syllable

among the bubbles,

rapture is made

of the loss

of pushing forward,

of being carried

by the massive.


The loss

drifted toward

in dreaming


what is left

of me


the facts

can run me



In strange moments

his proximity

breathes for me.


others tried

to call on

something larger

than themselves


and so they danced

to identify their seasons

identify a place

identify a spirit

that made habitation


with masks

and elaborate gestures

they tried

to wake

the world



[Used by permission of the author.]



George Mario Angel Quintero was born in 1964 of Colombian parents in San Francisco, California, where he lived his first thirty years. He studied literature at the University of California and was later awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Fiction from Stanford University. He has published fiction, poetry, and essays in English as George Angel in literary magazines, the chapbook Globo (1996, Will Hall), and received the Nilon Award from Fiction Collective 2 for his book The Fifth Season (FCII, 1996). Since 1995, he has lived in Medellin, Colombia, where he has published the books of poetry in Spanish, Mapa de lo claro (Editorial Párpado, 1996), Muestra (Editorial Párpado, 1998), Tentenelaire (Editorial Párpado,2006), and El desvanecimiento del alma en camino al limbo (Los Lares,2009) as well as a book of plays in Spanish,  Cómo morir en un solar ajeno (Transeunte, 2009). His visual art has been shown and repeatedly used as book illustration. He has been the director and playwright of the theater company Párpado Teatro since 2003. He also makes music with the groups Underflavour and Sell the Elephant.