Poetry: The night I watched Moonlight for the first time, I thought about how both the Earth & by Michael Pagan

Michael Pagan’s beautiful ekphrasis reminds us what is so compelling about the film—the tender exploration of love and self, the bodies holding bodies, the water. Are you water enough?


The night I watched Moonlight for the first time, I thought about how both the Earth &

silent boys stay silent

because every time they speak

they feel

like they’re breathing in the unpurified

air impoverished with secrets.

But what if the oceans didn’t

exist anymore?

Would Chiron have finally spoken?

His head full of miracles?

Would Juan ever hold him?

Let him rest

that small head of his inside his hand

eyes like luminous windows.

The water draped around him

like a cape.

In a world where hands often lead

to our humiliations

would he still make that promise to

never let him go?


Would he still see hands

as homes? Bodies as

sign language?

Would he think:

Take me home?


Would he have still fallen

in love?

Watched the moon turn


When the night is full

of the false promises that

splinter out of its open wound

because in this kind of light

scars appear deeper

than usual?

Would he have cried

(relieved)? & Would he have said

he cried then cried because

he said he did?

Then turn

into drops & roll right into

the water?

But what if there were no water

to begin with? Just a landscape

of violence?

In a world filled with the predictable

architecture of violence, hope

can be an exhilarating shape.

An improvisation. A new theory

on survival because aren’t we only

as alive as our ideas?


Would Kevin still reach out

to him (his hands an index

of openings & closings)

the way the blue Earth

always had when it said:

You’re my only. I’m your only?

Sounding the way a mother sounds

when they’re gasping for breath?

Or would Chiron (like most

of us who fear admitting to ourselves:

There’s nothing wrong with me)

offer only our backs to it

because we refuse to allow

it to be the only living thing

that touches us?

Or if he did reach out, would he

have let go or would he respond:

Yes, love?

Reduce the space in-between


until there was no air

for him to breathe that he

wasn’t breathing too.

No atmosphere to nudge through.

Smell his cologne then smell

like his cologne.

Now, arms & legs

& hands around torsos & eyes &

ears & mouths & breathing

is a face & hands are homes.

Now, disobeying the fear

away piece by piece

from their bones

now moaning like seeds

growing out of concrete


Would they have grown? He

& Kevin planted together

into trees? Or would they

have just died like so many

before them?

Made into sculptures

out of the dry, lifeless Earth

because Man isn’t water


Only bones & the souls

of other dead ghosts.


Michael Pagan

Born and raised in Miami, FL, Michael J Pagán spent four years (1999-2003) in the United States Navy before (hastily) running back to college during the spring of 2004. He currently resides in Lake Worth, FL, where he continues to work on writing. He is a is a co-founder of 100 Miles & Running – A Collective & also maintains a blog of all his published work: The Elevator Room Company. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University's Creative Writing M.F.A. program, his poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama have appeared or is forthcoming in Apogee Journal, The Chattahoochee Review, Hunger Mountain, The Rumpus, DIAGRAM, Spork Press, Coachella Review, BlazeVOX, Menacing Hedge, Revolver, Hobart, Mad Hatters’ Review, Juked, The California Journal of Poetics, Rock and Sling, Spiral Orb and Saw Palm among others.

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