The Tower Journal

Hugo J. Quizhpi

Snubbed Out Hours

I try to stay in touch
but things keep coming up.

There are lines
waiting to be followed,
ashes heaping
upon the day, and folks
asking for less of this
and more of that.

There was a time,
long before our parents
began slowing down,

we placed faith on grapes
doused in champagne—

now only cold tongues
press down on another year.

Once in a while,
before the clock snubs out
the passing hour,

you emerge
like an oasis amidst the smoky
tailpipes on the road.


The second part, predicting danger,
became evident during
the flight between Miami & New York.

I was in the center seat
speaking politely to the man on my right.

It was an ordinary conversation
about wristwatches, baseball, and fishing.

Then the plane began smoking
in ways too dangerous for the mainstream.

A lady dropped gold-rimmed dentures
into the plastic cup in her hands.

Other people offered cigars, rum,
newspapers, and toy cars
to the aisles burning besides them.

Each of us, in our lives,
is an ember dying slowly in its own right.


It was raining
on the night your letter arrived.

Its edges were damp,
as if teardrops had soiled the sealed
eyelid of this envelope.

Outside, the moon was milkier
than the cloudy eye of a blind poet;
inside, the following words

spilled across the paper
like a rum-soaked night in Miami:

It’s hard to feel composed
when hours are dedicated to someone
you cannot touch,
to shoulder around such feelings
like a loose rope
searching for a place to hold.

Sometimes, I wonder if loneliness
ever provokes you
to excuse yourself to someone else.

The truth
would trouble this high-wire act
of emotions.

I paused,
scouring for pinches of perfume
on the paper, but nothing…

just the minty scent of vines
that had collected in the mailbox.

Tonight, as rain bathes
these moonlit streets, know this:

You are the cornerstone
of my being, all my nearby
and faraway hours
are waiting to be filled by you.

Light Strikes Dark

Yesterday, in the dark,
as I drove over oily puddles
in an empty parking lot,

I began to think about
the things I said but never did.

I thought of the friends I lost,
teardrops I tucked away,
and of all the people
I lacked the will to love.

Now, silence fills the places
where their voices were once heard.

With my thoughts still fixed
on yesterday and now,

I paused below a flashing light,
its neon message—
a promise to redeem our hidden flaws.

Requiem for Yasuni

“Ecuador approves Yasuni national park oil drilling
in Amazon rainforest.”—The Guardian

Compassion is an act too scarce
to replicate, and comfort is only found
in the feathered robes of elders.

In this unspoiled ecosystem
full of raindrops refusing to forget
past reflections,

the sowing of collected dreams
has been censored
by an oily finger demanding
exclusive control.

The seasons of propaganda,
which seeped from the small openings
of pursed lips,
now has its grand finale—

once bold markings on old borders
are now thumbprints of diminishing ink.

Copyright © 2014 Hugo J. Quizhpi

Hugo J. QuizhpiHugo Hugo J. Quizhpi was born and raised in New York City. He served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, where he received recognition for duties rendered during 9/11 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His poems are inspired by his experiences in the military and his indigenous Ecuadorian roots.

His work has appeared in Nagari Magazine, Underwater NY, EG Journal, Eclectica Magazine, vox poetica, and on WLRN Public Radio. He lives in Miami, FL.

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014