Pablo Piñero Stillmann

Grievance with Lines by Miguel Hernández

You threw me a lemon, so bitter,
with a hand warm, so pure,
& maybe what I love is precisely
how your lemons only ever

brush up to sweetness. You’re all
peel, no pulp. & yes, you win, again—
so says this heart as it fills
my only good shirt with blood.

Left as the only witness
was an acrid goat, split hooves
on the hard city. Only the goat knew
my pain: the same as nothing.



Two Decades Later, First Love Reappears

Face to face—finally—neither
knew what to say. “How have you been?”
& the other: “How are you?” &
once again: “How’s it going?” & on

with the torment of empty
phrases until clicking into the grooves
each had engraved in the other’s brain.
The central matter hung from

nowhere like nightmare mistletoe, ignored
& compulsively not. But she was quick
to mention her recent separation
from the man she’d left me for. Why

did my face redden upon confessing
I was “with someone”? Should I have rotted
by the phone? (Almost did!) I narrated
a recurring dream in which I was forced back

to school to fulfill a missing course.
The same dream, she said, haunted her.
Too many hours went by
until the spell broke. Who were all these people

all around us? Since when
was the live band playing onstage? Outside
she smoked a quick
cigarette, suffocating its fire

against the brick wall. Then we went
our separate ways, once more
& for old times’ sake, tied together by what
we didn’t understand.

On the walk home, past lonely
drunks & first dates, I thought of
“Two Decades Later…,”

how all this time I’d been expecting
my torn heart to heal. Maybe

this will be the year. But the tear is a tear.
It will never heal.
Like hers & all the other
tears stalking this torn world.



“Is a more awful truth”

Is a more awful truth
that dreams mean nothing

or that they’re vital messages
constantly trying to reach us

in a language we can’t understand?
Help me. I often dream of cars.

Anxious dreams. My car won’t start.
Or I’m lost in an infinite garage.

I somehow find myself behind
the wheel of someone else’s car

& only when I hear the siren
do I realize I’m a criminal. More

disturbing: that the car is metaphor
or that it isn’t? That it signals some

past agony or that it’s just a symptom
of a looping glitch in my brain.

Consider this: what
we call substance

could just be the busywork
of coloring in the gaps.



Pablo Piñero Stillmann’s work has appeared in Blackbird, Mississippi Review, Notre Dame Review, Washington Square Review, and other journals. He has published a novella, Temblador (Tierra Adentro, 2014), & a collection of short stories, Our Brains and the Brains of Miniature Sharks (Moon City Press, 2020). Last summer he attended the Sewanee Writers' Conference as a Tennessee Williams Scholar. Pablo lives in Mexico City.