Free Will

By Daniel Eduardo Ruiz

I will pay for singing lessons

and play the piano. I will

learn Kung Fu, capoeira,

and break dance on the A train.

My magazine will be called

Pangaea and I’ll deliver

a carry-on bag of Café Bustelo

to poets living in Lithuania,

Zimbabwe, Jerusalem, Honduras.

I swear I’ll hold chopsticks correctly

before I’m buried, swear

to bungee jump, skydive,

go fishing because

I’ve never done it. One day

I’ll dunk a basketball—

sooner before later. Kiss

me, I wake up early

on purpose. Someone must

sing to the roosters,

peel the kiwis,

and preheat the oven.

Kiss me—I’m learning

Catalan. I’m getting a credit card

with sky miles and flossing

so my dentist will smile

more. At first, I missed

my car, but after seeing Dracula

I found I sleep sound

on buses. If Bruce Lee

did push-ups with two fingers,

what about me? Why can’t

I karate-chop  concrete

slabs? I wasn’t always an apt

jump-roper. I didn’t always

speak English, nor did I like

cheese until my teens. I played

baseball with rocks and sticks,

basketball with a netless hoop,

soccer with a kickball.

The first seven years of my life

I refused to tie my shoes

myself. Now I can cut my own hair,

hold a handstand a few seconds, and

type with ten fingers.

I have whole albums memorized—

Big L and New Order, Kanye West and

Duran Duran—and every minute I’m

witness to the wind, a trained secret

agent. Every day I do

1,000 calf-raises. I’m turning

my body into a sculpture.


Daniel Eduardo Ruiz was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and now studies poetry at the Michener Center for Writers at University of Texas-Austin. A 2016 Fulbright Scholar to Chile, his poems can or will be found in Southern Indiana Review, Juked, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere.

Originally appeared in NOR 23.

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