17/30: SOMEHOW, I KEEP ON LOVING
by Zachary Caballero
You don’t walk into the wind, you walk against it
Contrary to the spellbound leaf, thrown around,
lifted up and taken away, unlike you, feet on ground.
Resilient soothsayer, rhythm—with your steps—maker,
Who let the concrete spin the balls of my feet? Ink-blot.
I tip-toe across a puddle and jot down the reflection
The questions I seek are answers in another form.
The wind wants to win but you have legs better than wings.
The rain wants to destroy but all it does is cleanse.
The elements want to touch you then leave, so they do.
But I am tired of losing. Watch me get caught in the rain
with my umbrella hands, malfunctioning inside buildings
I’ve built in my head, opening up, like disbelief in bad luck,
Nothing can hurt me. Not the rain, the gust, rusted lust.
On the highway, a man on a motorcycle zooms past the rest of us
while the storm is rife with hubris, my Uber driver, Asif,
Turns back to me to say, He does not love his life. And for once,
these words do not apply to me. Because I love my life. Yup,
sure do. Sometimes, when no one is looking, I yawp. Foolish talk.
Chalk-teeth. Don’t care if the words will last. I need to speak.
Taking care of my weaknesses like baby teeth, I pull the truth
out of me the same way a knot is untied. Clumsy wrists. Tight-lips.
Walking downtown, I am the furthest from being a leaf.
No, I love my life too much. Exorbitant. Joy, Flood-like.
The last thing I ever want to say will most likely be a
Run-on sentence, chasing the next thought like a promise
I told you’d I keep. Man of my word. I turn sadness into sweet tea.
Have you heard the one about misery? We all need company.
At Phoenicia, one of the chefs and I are friends.
He asks me to call him Abibi. Abibi calls me Cousin-Brother.
He thinks I’m Lebanese, and when I correct him, he says
Lo siento. Then, another time, Adios, Cousin-Brother. Language lessons.
On Sunday, Fi Amanullah, Cousin-Brother. When I ask what he means, he replies
Allah will protect you, then hands me warm shawarma, and I reply,
I’m gonna need all the help I can get it, and it’s true. I take my food, exit,
only to walk against the wind, now knowing, my body is protected.
Nothing about me spellbound or in disbelief. Contrary to the leaf.