hold me tight (or don’t)

hold me tight

(or don’t)

this isn’t that song, you know

you can’t just peep and pick and choose

the pieces of my latinity that you’ll worship to infinity

you either hold me tight

(or don’t)

 

this isn’t that movie, you know

you can’t just say you love

my brown skin my black eyes my sacred hair my divinity

just to reject the traumas you can’t fetishize into something you can own

you either hold me tight

(or don’t)

 

this isn’t that book, you know

you can’t just spend everyday

listening for hours about the million ways I’m nothing like you

just to dismiss this halfway house of an identity the minute your whiteness can’t save it

you either hold me tight

(or don’t)

 

So either hold me tight with a body nothing like mine

(or don’t)

If this isn’t how our story goes then say so

there’s a million stories in my culture that tell me exactly what you’ll do

I’ll keep a candle lit for you, because what else is love for but forgiving men like you

But I hope the distance between us cuts you like a knife

the next time you either hold me tight

(or don’t)

 

 

 

 

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al otro lado de la pared

on the other side of the wall

that plexiglass fortress that keeps you

sequestered away in that little office of yours

complete with windows barred in rusted iron

there’s a million sounds to reverberate the air

 

there is

the sound of your tongue

tliq*tliq*tliq

against your teeth when you talk

 

there is

the sound of my feet as I skitter over to you

tuuk*tuuk*tuuk

a baby’s footsteps on the hard corporate carpet

 

there is

the sweet serious baritone of your laugh

heh*heh*heh

honey flowing from deep in that broad chest of yours

 

there is

the sound of wounds healing the

swish*swish*swish 

of your hand on my back the

scritch*pat*scratch 

of your fingers in my hair the

softest thud

tuht*tuht*tuht

of my chin on your shoulder when we hug the

prosaic hum of our bodies falling into safe rhythms

zoom*ziss*shhh*

 

all these million sounds to reverberate the air

in front of that red-iron barred window

where you’re sequestered away in that office of yours

a tiny fortress of gleaming plexiglass to keep you

on the other side of the wall.

 

playing numb

are the thoughts still intrusive if its been four months,

or can you just be another in the litany of voices in my head?

I’m asking for a friend and that friend is me cause

between me and myself, between

hours of bike rides and the screams of little cousins

between the tequila I drank Wednesday night and the way white men talk to me,

I still remember everything.

 

and the hurt isn’t sharp, not anymore,

its more of a dull throb somewhere between my uterus and kidneys

the way pancreatitis feels once your enzymes reach 2K over the healthy limit of 20

and just like that night my gallbladder exploded, it seems

like I keep retching up more and more and more

every hour on the hour

of the things you did the way I felt

continual flows of bitter yellow bile dumped from the cavern of my mouth

But somehow I’m not getting better.

 

and maybe this means I need an intervention

except instead of a blonde doctor weaving a tiny robot’s hands through my entrails

it’ll be a white man weaving his careful green eyes and soft words around my head

avoiding the pieces that still scream ouch, ouch when touched until the day we both die

 

or maybe like the errant gallstone that blocked my liver ducts, that

scritchy itchy feeling under my ribcage

I’m still holding on to some calcified chunk of what happened

maybe that’s why I still remember the words you said so clearly

every time someone touches my arms

or when the smell of an IPA hits my nose

or when I catch someone staring at my sacred hair

 

words like

do you think that black kid is gay 

or

why do the gays need to have marriage why couldn’t they just have civil unions

maybe they do love each other the way my wife and I do 

or

of course I know that police treat blacks differently, I used to sic cops on black kids when I was breaking the law 

and even

I am waiting to see if you are okay 

 

I am waiting to see if I am okay, too.

 

 

 

intrusive thoughts pt 3

I keep getting all this advice on how to heal

on where healing begins

and how and when it should end

I keep being told

you need to write out everything that happened

you need to speak it aloud to your lover your inner circle your own self

you need to leave where it happened you need to go back

you need time you need to hurry and forget

you need to be positive you need to be negative you need to imagine revenge

a seafoam eye for an umber one

or in your case milk fed entrails spilled out in clammy calamitous hands

instead of those fed fat on green bitter nopalitos and red sweet tunas

 

But every time I take out the see-through paper to write every bitter word you slathered

every time I try to imagine sinking my brown fingers into your white tummy

every time I acknowledge that I left the place but carried the home with me

no matter how many poems I narrate to my boyfriend my cabal of witches my self

every time I try and do any of these healing things

laying in the hot sun or in the cool of a vernal pool

hands splayed over the waist you so unkindly grabbed telling her over and over

that I’m sorry I’m sorry  I am sorry

 

I can’t.

because instead of imagined violence bathing me in sanguine healing

it drives me to remembrance instead

I remember your chuckle, how the air would be expelled from your nose at the end

like a jade-green dragon blowing smoke from his scaly scintillating nose

right before he snaps off your head in his million-mawed jaws

 

I remember how your eyes are the exact shade of green of the ocean in Puerto Peñasco

when you wade in at sunset to the spot right before you drop from the continental shelf

where black dolphins swim round feeding blue jellyfish to white belly orcas

 

I remember how heavy your hand was when you pet me after the election

because you were apologizing for other people expressing the same sick thoughts as you

about black men and brown girls and folks who are neither but love both

 

I remember that bottle of purple-throated merlot

the thought that I had lipstick that color passing through the tiptop of my frontal cortex

right before you tell the waitress to bring a straw so the baby can drink her juice

and I realize the juice is the glass of swirling merlot you placed in front of me

and the baby is me 

 

And I’ve left the place but when I close my eyes on the Bergen havn

it almost feels like nothing has changed at all and I’m back in that humid library

not realizing that your smile is actually a leer

not realizing that you aren’t listening to my gossip and the interest in your voice

isn’t about my words

its about how when I kneel on your carpet I’m at perfect height

not realizing all those times you were standing too close because I could smell you was

because you were trying to smell me under the perfume and the dry shampoo

not realizing the emotional buildup the community had built up around someone else

should’ve really been meant for you

because what was hotter to you than

reimagining what your petty life could be like inside a little brown girl?

 

And all this floats by me and hurts like the thousand flung needles of  jellyfish tentacles

the time I stepped in the gelatinous blue of a man o war when I was in Puerto Peñasco

because I was too busy admiring that green right before you fall off the continental shelf

 

it happens when I am alone in bed or in a sea of people at the market or

when I am laying in the cool of a vernal pool or in the hot sun

or when I am talking to that kind fisherman and he invites me for a drink

 

and all I can think of is how that merlot swirl, swirl, swished in the glass

as you told the waitress to fetch a straw so the baby can drink her juice

or about how if C and M and S and J hadn’t been blowing up my phone

that night outside the bar, vibration notifications a tiny earthquake in my hands

freeing me up to bury my face in my phone and my heels into the pavement

you would’ve really been able to reimagine what your petty life could be like

inside the abandoned body of a little brown girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

intrusive thoughts

its been a month already, don’t you know

and while I try my best to audiate away

what happened

spending every second minute hour day week

playing music and singing endlessly

somehow

I always come back to the thud/thud/thud

of your fingers on the bar

to the ring/ring/ringing

in my ears

like the aftermath of a sad soprano’s solo

(you yelled so loud)

to the sloppy slush sound of my brain

colliding with my skull

as you

rattled me round

like so much sand in a maraca.

 

 

and somehow

No matter how many times I sing

or scream

or beg

my skin still sinks back into the form of your

hard heavy hands

on my face on my waist

that feeling of being frozen as my insides melt

a puddle in your greasy gritty palms

as you gather my legs into yours

your knees leaving dents in mine

 

 

And some nights

when I’m still trying to scrub the smell of you

out of

my skin my hair my soft palate

the trickle of water down the curve of

my face my waist

reminds me of the ocean that poured from your seafoam eyes

while you did everything

and

the smooth oval of your face

intrudes into the blank space behind my eyes

 

 

and once again I’m singing endlessly

frozen as my insides melt

with the sloppy slush sound of my brain

bashing against my skull

as you drag my face to yours

and our foreheads clack together with a click

and my hair is a puddle in your greasy gritty palms

 

and the ring/ring/ringing in my ears

is the only distraction from

the feeling of each of your fingers

reaching around my face like spider’s legs

your middle finger digging into the back of my ear

(could you feel the thud/thud/thud of my heart)

as you rattle me round

like so much sand in a maraca

every second minute hour day week

since last month.

 

 

devour

have you ever seen a man eat a peach?

after long days of work,

his forearms stained with inky grime

as he sits, knees apart, muscles twitching

to feast on the life of the peach?

 

 

have you ever seen a man eat a peach?

seen him pluck her tenderly from where she lay

take that soft gold body in his hands

smooth a thumb across her velvet skin

as he contemplates his feast

on the life of the peach?

 

 

have you even seen a man eat a peach?

how he rolls her in his hands

finally settling in to cup her round body in his thick hands

squeezing her insides to her pitted spine

and with wide grin and dripping lips

sinks his teeth in

to devour the life of the peach?

 

 

and now that you know how

a man devours a peach

seen how the muscles in his forearms

flex inwards and bow outwards

as he crushes her body

seen the life of the peach drip down

his face his throat

her insides spilled over his hands

flecks of gold velvet still in his teeth

 

tell me

have you ever been

a peach?

today

today is a hard day

hard and crunching and cracked

like the gravel on that middle path

where you greeted me

 

 

today is a hard day

like Samson I thought I slept among friends

only to wake up alone

to a bald head and barren lands

 

 

today is a hard day

hard and crunching and cracked

the sound of my voice or

the sound your straw made as

you twirled it in your iced coffee

 

 

today is a hard day

you heard it in my cracked voice

as I crunched cool tears back behind my eyelids

to try and talk to you.

and you know and know and you always knew

what was really wrong

the din hidden just on the other side

of this round face and these painted lips

 

 

but you try and you try and you try

to tease to talk to treat

to coax away the voices

of my mom of my ex-boyfriend of all those people

those resounding words of exclusion

 

 

and today was a hard day

but the sun kissing our faces

brightened my day

and that scent of

honeysuckle and fresh water and sunshine on the mount

the sound of your voice

the blue of your eyes when they peer into mine

the warm soft safe place that is your embrace

these are what light these sunset eyes

and these are the air in my lungs

and these

the gold honey of your voice

the gentle grip of your hands

the way your face is filled with love when you smile

these are things which carry me

 

on days like today

when I am hard and cracked and crunching

like the gravel on middle path

on the day we first met

four years ago.