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.
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.
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.