brotherly love

“Brotherly Love”, “Loving Your Absence” and “Nostalgia”

by Jonathan Clark

brotherly love

Brotherly Love

We start out soft as Egyptian sheets – boys,

then we manufacture into men. Notice how the word

men, sounds harder, stiffened by our insides churning

to stone as we grow.

For instance, things tasted sweeter

when our taste buds were young, chewing on sugarcane

sold by soot-faced boys with immigrant fathers on Brooklyn streets.

Uncle shares his secrets on how to bite such stubborn stalk,

sucking out its candy juices. Never thought a man experiencing war

could demonstrate the tricks of ordinary life. His demons constantly

'casting shadows cuffing him with flashbacks of dead buddies'

bodies splayed as seed on a battlefield where he returns

years later, peering out amongst a lush field of flowers

taking bloom from blood spilled.

Explains why he arrived home

not religious anymore. Keeps repeating the same few-words-spoken

adage admonished towards me with a finger seesawing up and down

in slow motion, so as to say I better not miss his message – God

has some nerve turning my friends’ rotting bodies into pretty pink flowers.

If you ask me, it’s as weak an apology as when I see a rainbow.

No wonder Uncle’s comforted in feeling my pubescent Adam’s apple

pinched between the grown-up grip of his forearm locked

and lifting me off the ground from under my chin,

releasing exactly before unconsciousness comes, reinforcing

if he hasn’t already killed a man, he sure knows how.

So please,

don’t take it personal when our pretend-fighting turns too serious.

Inside me dwells a generational sickness and the only cure involves

hands tremoring, pressing pressure with pleasure around your throat,

watching your cartoon-cut face change colors like a chameleon

from iceberg pale to navy blue to purple haze purple. Hoping

my prayer is answered when the light starts flickering in your eyes-

your brother swooping in to save you a million times just like mine.

And after ten minutes of silence, you gasping to oxygenate back

the air I stole, do you think we can revert backwards to best friends

stuffing our mouths with your mom’s Christmas cookies,

acting like nothing happened?

Loving Your Absence

for Angelica

Loving your absence, honeycomb, is equivalent

To solving an algorithm as complicated


as first-date dining at the dinner table

entangled in engage-less conversation,

glued to chairs at opposite ends of an enigmatic

dueling of eyes over candles & red wine.


Loving your absence, tiger lily lady, is synonymous

with paraplegia of the brain, further suffering from


chronic sadness. Physicians prescribe this prescription;

to keep a pot astir with homemade stew for two simmering

slow sizzle like a sing along to Luther Vandross songs coaxing

disconnected lovers to dance, regardless of the pouring rain.


Loving your absence, sour-patch girl, is as delusional

as misconstruing winning tug-o-war on the playground


in 5th grade, exhausting ourselves till the rope

is frayed, blood dripping & flooding in pools

lapped up by blacktop – courtesy of shredded hands

pulling until we’re free from flesh left to strip.


Loving your absence, delicious diva, is me sifting

through a shoebox tucked in the corner


of a dark closet, unburying our skeletons’

bones for pebbling across a pond in replace

of skipping stones. Watch them suddenly stop

halfway & contemplate how to commit to sinking.


Loving your absence, crumb-cake babe, is me fumbling

for equilibrium, like an infant wobbling on its heels for balance.

Nostalgia

means, according to Webster, a wistful or excessively

sentimental yearning for return to or of some past

period irrecoverable condition – this is how I choose

to remember us, as relics of nostalgia. But only after

having taken years to carefully peel with a paring knife

the spoil of a shell concealing what is anticipated ripe inside

will I find that hindsight is less than 20/20 much like

the present? Perhaps, one should consider the lessons in experience

more reliable than nostalgia. Though, maybe I should heed

my own advice before closing the office door at work to retrieve

some everyday sanity from within the crumpled photo of us

in a desk drawer – how effortless the camera captures you resting

your head on my shoulder, my cheek safely nestled in your nest of hair,

our brown eyes drifting into the lens’ flash focus coloring in

shades of brightness for smiles that begin to fade with a black hole

background creeping from behind to devour us both from any light.

About the Author

Jonathan Clark

Jonathan Clark is an emerging poet from the history rich borough of Bethlehem, PA. His muses for writing take shape in the form of fusing fragmented personal histories attempting to negotiate closure. He is currently working on compiling a chapbook, in which many poems interrogate how we sculpt a personal identity through the broken human relationships we rely on for belonging and purpose. This is his first publication.