A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: 4/30

4/30: THE ANSWER

Will my niece ever love a man like me?

If I think about
the answer
If I hope
the answer
is no—then I want her to know why.

Jessi, mija, I am your uncle but before I am a man
I am a boy I am a mistake I am untrue I am a lie
I am a forgery I am a horror story I am a sorry
sorry man, a forged boy, a museum of memories
spoiling in the corner like stories stuck in time-out

I am a mistake
I keep making.

In the sixth grade, puberty arrived. So did desire.
So, so, so
many fires forged this foolish faith,
and mija, I cannot apologize
for the stubborn smoke of my secrets. But I will
explain myself
to you.

I did not
want to be a Mexican boy with the Spanish name
but Mexican girls,
like you, wanted me the way I was.
Knowing this, I hid
this new affection for soft cajeta eyes.
I lied about my longing. I did not give
it a name. I grew secrets in silence.
Intimacy did not speak unless spoken to.
Eleven years old, under the wooden desks
of my world geography class,
I sit next to a girl with eyes like yours
She speaks Spanish to me like a secret
She knows I cannot keep
When no one is looking,
my right hand storms
the unfamiliar shores of her new world skin,
and this new land does not feel new,
Because our blood flows from the same running river of remembering
Because our grandmothers speak Spanish in their kitchens when cooking
Because our mothers threw chanclas in the backseat to beat us
Because our skin jumped at the sun like the gritos of our tios
Because my name told them I was a lit saint candle in their hallway—

Weeks later, when confronted by my peers
All I can do is lie
about the first time
a Mexican girl
held me wordlessly
in the dark, pretending
our
hands never melted
like honey
across hot sopapillas.

As a rule, I learned,
to be a cruel boy,
you must deny what you feel.
I trapped the truth in me like a dead tree.
Years later, when other men ask me
if I would ever date a Latina,
I’d say, I don’t date Mexican women.
I’d say, have you met my mother?
I’d say, I only stay for the food.
I’d say, does it look like I want to wake up with a knife in my back?
I thought, is this not what Mexican men do?
Disguising vulnerability
is a disgusting disease
I am trying to transfuse
out of my blood by talking
to you,

Jessi—
don’t let
any man hide his hands
when he holds you.

Do not love a man
who believes
he is blameless
for failing to name
the monsters he created.

Do not love a man
who preserves the past
into a personal legend
but acts like the lessons
are lost on him.

Mija, I did not mean
to be so mean.
Please,
do not love
a man like me.

4/30: HOW YOU THINK ABOUT YOURSELF

At a party where no one is listening,
a woman I’ve never wanted
whispers in my ear, leans over to say,
I know how you are,
And she is a liar as soon
as she says it, as soon as she says
know and you,
the air in the room sours.
She, a fruit fly, a gnat, a small
bothersome thing, hovering
beneath her false certainty,
and I cannot kill what I cannot see:
truth dimmed in half-light
a lie dug in the dark,
invisible, dangerous sparks,
catching fires
more troublesome than the storm
forming inside my throat.

On the phone, a woman I do not want
to want me back anymore says,
I think, I think
You have trust issues,
And as soon as she says it,
am I supposed to be less true?
Is my skin the soil she needs
her words to take root in?
People misconstrue
bloom and blame as the same,
but who gave both my name?

I read a text message from a woman
who does not want me to want her back,
who wanted me, then stopped wanting me,
who kissed me, then stopped kissing me,
who, at once, remains both
blameless and blooming.

She, typing,
me waiting,

three dots bounce like a wave
transmitting
the blue crash a new rash
now sending
slowly bending towards me,
the words move up, delivered
like the river leaving the ocean,
the words touch the earth of my skin,
leap off the touch screen, unleashed,
touching me without sound,
I think, I think
you felt more for me than I felt for you,
And as soon as she writes it,
I read it, each single syllable of
her words jump into my body,
barrage of silent cadavers
pierce the paper on my skin&
all I can do is weep in my garage,
inaudibly alone, sitting,
neither beside or outside,
but as my disgusted self,
listening to Azalea
croon out the wicked moon
of Louis Armstrong’s cratered
throat, a songbirds words
blooming off my tongue,
the garden of my blues
recoiling, repeating
the melody
of m’lady melancholy.
I confuse so many
sounds for hope.
Is my heart wrong?
In the dark field of my longing,
all the flowers are dead.
I know who you are,
the pain says
the pain says,
now and always,
your hurt
belongs to me,
while

the pain of your name
your long history of blame
now and always,
only
belongs to you,

and all I can do is murmur
alongside the sideways summer storm,
yearning to unlearn,
still not knowing what to do
other than follow
the soft curve of my palms
form around the jawline,
like a poorly written sentence
I don’t want to write.
I know who you are, and
I know who I want you to be
the pain says, but you’ll
never know the difference.
I say,
Pain,
How do you
think about yourself
when no one is there to witness?
when your grief stays, unanswerable,
never beginning, yet always
unfinished?