His face was refreshing like Violet Gum, but
the pockets of my throat would bet him as indigestible. I was thirteen when I discovered the surgeon general’s warning tattooed in the fat of Victor’s chest. Smoke hanging like eaves from the roof of his mouth. Not to be confused with the smoke of his father’s violent Guns left unattended for play, and protection in his drug habits. Nixon lied when he said that defeat doesn't finish a man. His curiosity was only deposited further by his absent mother’s abysmal spills. I thought he was clean the summer we met; He had sang of sobriety particularly well. But while the cicadas left their shells and warned me to return home, I was begging him to break my sheltering. Because I loved that night. I loved him, I loved him that night.
For my mother, 1972
If you were flavor of the week,
you’d be the taste of rusted nails in a sea of teeth from biting at the inside of my cheek. I mourn the screams buried underneath my tongue. You’d be the taste of rusted nails in a sea of teeth, because you speak a language of silence. I mourn the screams buried underneath my tongue, they are so delicate. Because you speak a language of silence, you pull apart the wings of my droning youth. They are so delicate with their hands around my throat.
The pale man with a fat collar sharpened his teeth to bite into the pulp of a psalm. I envied him closer to God and nearly having eaten the microphone. ii. Suddenly, the bobbing aisles and shuffling pews cease to biblical current. Behind him is a fountainhead of distraction. The mosaics are rich in blood orange and specs of sunlight through stained glass electrify young churchgoers into a disco scene. iii. A Xavier boy is likely to yank the ponytail of the girl in front of him again. His khakis will become an eyesore in an overpopulated neighborhood of plaid skirts. I will find myself searching the room for disruption. And during that time, God will be searching for me.
chew on the filters
of their cigarettes like marrow in a bone. their mouths hang open as they laugh, staining the floral runner with mom's casserole my sister usually clears the glass tumblers from the table, while these men slough old advertisement pitches Remember me, Barbara? I can't say I do. But I do recall their wives, silenced from the dull ache of their insults And when these men finally leave to seek malaise in bar bathrooms, dad's rugged footsteps tap-dance around the lyrics of Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin."
the oak frames and polyester tarp peel
like the hawkers’ chapped lips a collection of relics having abandoned their craftsmanship a foreign couple flashes their dialect and suddenly everyone listens there are no steel drums or stewed oxtail, as they had been told only a routine array of Indonesian wood. the light fixtures are wrapped in a cheesecloth but the aisles incandescent with fabrics and beads
my knuckles are a sandpaper
stained with cherry wine a muddied grape metacarpal as talented as the devil, yet naive like a child
Right off of the 7 train,
Irish Catholic schoolgirls spilling out of Jahn's like marbles Their plaid skirts against exposed brick bellies full of kitchen sink The produce stand next door eggs .60 a dozen, milk one dollar Now converted into a bodega or maybe even a small Muslim prayer room I bought my first album at a record store on 82nd The brown paper bags, thin as bible pages It spun on the Victrola in my parents' Tudor The yellowing wallpaper smelled of my mom's Virginia Slims And sounded of my dad's Vermouth His own liver fried with onions, just as he liked it