Luis Humberto Valadez

if a lie is a promise to dwell in the land
amassed in the treads of another's footprints

I promise I am not lying as much as I can
when I promise to meet you at a mark
our hosts call a temple made from red tile

a temple we have traversed a few times
on our ways to elsewhere without knowing it

as much as I can I can promise I am not lying

when I promise to hit the mark in my red-lined
brown shoes at the time we have agreed is appropriate

I am not lying as much as I can promise I am not lying

but I am certain we will not arrive at the same place

I cannot lie when I do not know the honest matter
of a fact

can you           believe            the matter
of a fact                                   is a cloud?

a cloud            floating            towards another?
another            cloud               forming likenesses?

likenesses        received          by retinas?                                         
retinas             tucked into      eyes of many?

of many                                   shapes cradled?                      
cradled            in skulls           of many sizes?

I can   
not know                    
the matter                               
of a lie                                                
                        I wonder

who                 can even          see
see                   a                      cloud
cloud               for the             smog

emitted            by                    people
people             who all            must
must                                        tilt

tilt                   their                 chins
chins                upward and     raise
raise                their                 eyebrows        

eyebrows                                 towards
towards           their                 hairlines
to                     have a              look

I can                                       
I think                                    
of people                                            
whose retinas                                     
do not             
                        receive clouds

I promise as much as I can lie that I am not a beluga
intent on beaching myself on the homestead of my hosts

i am
not focused
on draining
the attention
of my hosts

i am
not draining
the life force
of my hosts

i am

not failing
to notice
my increasing
of breath

as much as I can promise i ask

can we agree to thrive in the soil
collected in the treads of each other's work shoes?