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.

 

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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 2

I wasn’t brave enough to go to the bar today

don’t ask me why  I’m not sure

maybe it was the tumult and noise of the crowd

the kind that would ignore my pleas for help

just for one more shot of whiskey

 

Or maybe it was

the mix of tobacco smoke and hops laden smell of Nordic beer

that acrid combination that spilled from your lips as you screamed in my face

 

Or maybe it was the dank and the hot,

the cramped humid spaces

like the clamminess of your hands against my face

or the feel of your forehead against mine

 

Or maybe or maybe or maybe

it was a million other things

That you dragged out of the dark

that night you buried your hands in my tummy

and pulled forth more than just my hips towards your own

 

 

and even though all I want

is to walk those cobblestones down the harbor

feel the ligaments in my legs stretch under that cool sea breeze

my lungs expand with the full salt air

my heart race when I see that kind fisherman

to lose myself in the fuzzy grey of his sweater

or the seafoam green of his eyes

or the soft brown of his fine-fingered hands

I still keep the ice table between us

count the fine lines on his lips instead of looking at his face

no matter how obvious he makes it

that all he wants is to press his forehead to mine

 

because what if what if what if

one night it turns out

that he wants to add his own storyline

to the palimpsest of flashbacks

what if he spills an ocean from his seafoam eyes

as he shakes the life from me

or plunges his hands so far into my waist that my insides recoil

what if he, too,  is just like you?

 

I’d rather be alone and never know

what the velvetine notes of his voice sound like after-hours

or what his last name is or

whether his bed is as soft as his heart

than risk meeting another you again

alone in a hot humid bar

 

and this was supposed to be a poem but I guess now it’s a letter

to you

even if you don’t deserve it

or

the space you occupy

in my heart or in my head

 

But I thought I could bury you like I buried the first hurt

bury the feeling of being flipped over by coarse hands in locked rooms,

bury the feeling of being tokenized and erased in drafty labs,

bury the feeling of black sulfurous sediments sliding into my ear

by

wrapping it up in the good and the milk and the honey

in the soft dirt underneath pine plantations or

the smell of honeysuckle and sunshine on the mount

in the taste of freshly-cut pineapple and iced coffee and catered sandwiches

 

But I can’t I can’t I can’t

no matter how many times I try to lose the memory of you

every time I walk down the harbor

faster and farther away from men who look like carbon copies of you

because let’s be honest like you were

that night at the bar

when you confessed yourself to me

 

you were part of the burial before

you were a piece of the loamy topsoil

your smile every time we met and

your embrace every time we parted ways

the quiet way we would talk among the stately trees about anything at all

 

And I wish so much that that night hadn’t happened

that you hadn’t appeared in the doorway lurking like a ghost

that you never ordered that beer like hops in a glass

that you had never taken those hands

that once held me in hugs as soft as that fisherman’s heart

and buried them so far into my body

that you dragged out every black moment I ever had

from the interstitial space between my ribs

and into the space between us

that night at the bar

when you confessed yourself to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

disappointment

between us right now

this feeling, is like

that uncanny valley between hurt and rage

a place you’ve never walked

But is engraved with the footsteps

of men and women with round faces and high cheeks and brown skin

just like mine.

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

the time I stepped onto an anthill

and a thousand brine lipped insects

poured forth and sank

their teeming mouths into my baby flesh

 

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

the day I first stepped foot into the sea

And felt it, vicious

Bite back.

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

that day working the makeup counter

when another latinx strode up to me and asked

if I could get her a foundation, one

“that didn’t make her look like an Indian”

as if we looking like our forefathers

looking Native

was the worst thing that could happen to us.

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

every moment I’ve ever looked into blue eyes

and felt the void, gazing back.

 

between you and I right now

is every other gringo

with a sly mouth and cloudy eyes and hard jaw

so willing to say things to us

things like don’t worry or  you’re beautiful

or sometimes when I’m really lucky

And your mouth is dripping and your sharp teeth glistening

with want once again

to own worlds that aren’t yours

you even say things like I love you

 

And just like every other one of us

Struggling to breathe in the space between the wall and your body

I’ll sit there and I’ll smile and I’ll look into those frosted eyes

every next time the next person

with your skin and your eyes and your privilege

mentions what they think Caitlyn Jenner’s real name should be

or how the latest fascist isn’t really problematic or

how much our feelings don’t matter

or at least, they don’t matter enough to you

to keep you from sliding into the next white feminist

with DIY bangs and bad excuses

 

 

between us right now

this feeling, is like

the vast expanse between our lives

where you loving us is always optional

and we have to love you, just to survive.