Sebastián H. Páramo

The Cosmic Machine

Machine of youth, first body

I walked into one night.


When God gave me wheels,

I pedaled until nothing could touch


the sole. When that pedal became

an engine, I drove away from my family,

past the bridge, over the underworld.
I wrote from far away places until


I could no longer picture their faces.

Then the universe said, let me thread


their voice through needles; let me

string sounds, syllables, songs until


there is a box for posing. But there is

a camera lens & I can record my imagination.


Document distance. My Polaroid is pinned

by magnets. Inside your living room,

there’s a broadcast. Everyone can see me

become famous for my alternative lifestyles.


You can like me because I’m like you.

Or I’m imitating you until I’m brand new.


Tell me I’m more than a thumbnail.


Yesterday, I turned my phone off & wrote

in my calendar with pen in cursive:

I missed your footsteps on the porch.

And you unlocked the door, humming:
don’t disappear, come here.


Then my home became a frame;

let me give you a tour.

These are my feelings two-fold

passed and given to the next person.


Now I’m touching grass—

becoming a King.

When I’m removed from real life,
I live ghost-like, I learn


the algorithmic-shape of human touch.

Now there goes the blessed bone-dust of


two lovers inside a rocket. Their last will

is carried by machines. Don’t you wonder how


we will bury our beloveds,

so far away from the beginning?

Sebastián H. Páramo is the author of the forthcoming collection Portrait of Us Burning (Northwestern University Press/Curbstone Books, 2023). His work has recently appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Poetry Northwest, The Arkansas International, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day series, and elsewhere. He is the founding editor of The Boiler, Poetry Editor for Deep Vellum, and a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.