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We chose Ixtapa for our honeymoon
because it was not yet commercialized,
as so many other places in Mexico
had become. We spent a lot of time
in Zihuatanejo; We burned bay leaves
in static pots of delicacy, ignoring the fruit flies
as we drank mezcal.
You swallowed the maguey worm,
and hallucinated its life as a moth
before it's capture from the agave.
It hit you like the Gulf that
May of 1986; beautifully
and cold.
You looked like a watercolor
entangled in the rope hammock.
Wide-mouthed and muscular,
in the reflection
of my sterling cuff bracelet.
While I examined my jewelry,
our feet were buried in the sand
by the dust we swallowed during our upbringing.
Bred and raised for fighting, we made love
like a bull kissing capote;
Taunting one another in
a masculine ring, performing
in foreign terrain.
You were so delicate
with your hands around my throat.
You helped me forget
by pulling apart the wings of my droning youth
that week.
from "Evenings in Jackson Heights"
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.
from "Evenings in Jackson Heights"
When you are flavor of the week,
you’re 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’re 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,
from biting at the inside of my cheek.
They are so delicate
when you are flavor of the week
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.

        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.

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 advertising 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 painted lips         and malaise in bar bathrooms,
Dad's rugged footsteps stay home

To tap-dance
around the lyrics of Sinatra's
"I've Got You Under My Skin."
from "Evenings in Jackson Heights"
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
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