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19.8k · Jul 2018
Barbell Bastard
**** the twin-size mattress,
that cheap indigo color.
Where my best friend’s legs,
her hands and knees,
were entangled in struggle.

**** his barbell body
heavy and cold to the touch.
She had been hunted  
by someone that she trusted.

**** the world that assumed  
she was kissed. Not gripped,
nor crushed under his pressing force.

**** the cinder block walls  
of that college dormitory,
where she stared and refused
to sleep in her own bed
After that night.

**** the catchy tune of breath
rolling over teeth  
that play in her head.
**** her father. He would say
he doesn’t approve of her *******.

So, she chose to stay quiet.
Forgettably quiet.
8.8k · Nov 2017
i don't ride my bike anymore
bike's rusted chain
against the walls of my childhood
a new family lives inside
but what they don't see
are the notes of cardamom and burnt orange
rolls of film that my parents and I left behind
capturing sneakers over gravel
along the east river
toward the steel Hell Gate
as dad jogged beside me
his caramel skin
against the sycamores
my first time learning how to ride
they don't feel the bruises and scrapes nor
taste the paella we shared for dinner that evening
they only see what we gave them,
an empty house with matte finish
7.4k · Nov 2017
Green Eyes
I’ve never dated a girl with green eyes
My girls always had brown
I like the mystery in not knowing where exactly
the pupil stands against the pigment
4.6k · Nov 2017
Canary's Song
When I was a child, the hallways stretched for miles
Mahogany and ceramic floors, polished bookcases
A mansion for fictional paperbacks
All neatly tucked under fluorescent lighting

The librarian would wait behind her desk
She reigned silent
besides the tapping of her fingertip to her glasses
I can’t remember her ever looking happy

Until the day I noticed the chirping
Sang somewhere between the realistic & historical fiction,
a bird cage sat next to the woman’s desk
It was an unexpected visit

I should have brought a better dressed book to check out
Mine was bound by yellowing pages
But I met the canary and heard her song
As I watched the librarian smile
1.3k · Nov 2017
Lead Me Out
I'm sinking with your memories
They can't swim 'cause they're under the river
If these walls could speak,
they would hardly bare a whisper

Your touch is colder than before
Ropes starting to fray
I'm becoming afraid
there is no spark anymore
Only to forget my name

Wondering how tired my lungs are
Sustenance carpets the hollow floor
Lead me out of the dark

Ignoring the signs
The more that I learn, the less meaning I find
Am I the hell you see
in your family's eyes or voice of reasoning?
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
1.1k · Nov 2018
The Oven
My father uprooted the linoleum tile
after purchasing the house and noticing carpenter ants.
The owners of the house before had laid down
their best pine colored flooring in the kitchen
back in 1959.
I would toddle in and out of the doorway
playing with the grout spacers,
and reaching for sourdough in the pantry.
All while stepping tiny pink sandals
around the dead ants.
I wanted to help my father, but was too afraid
to go near the oven.
The oven, whose
exhaust fan would snarl
like an animal of the night.
Incandescent, where they found Sylvia Plath.
Stained with oil
like a forgotten Jackson *******.

of it’s adjacent countertop
where eventually would lay
divorce papers.
938 · Dec 2018
White Noise
Should I bring a résumé  of my dreams
to the publishing company on West 38th?

An abstraction of when my teeth
crumble like pastels, or summaries of my
vocal cords seeking air through a taut fabric.
I’ve achieved piercing silence in a room of white noise.

I have an impressive inventory of witnessing infidelity.
once, we were both in between romantic partners.
I was awakened by the taste of copper
from biting the inside of my cheek.
It looked worthy of an aged Merlot.

My most admirable skill is prediction.
I can sense a mass shooting or the expiring heart of a loved one.
but I usually float like an island over the scene
because my biggest weakness is lacking density.
874 · Sep 2018
Manchester Green
The day we met
she offered me a cigarette
Trying to keep afloat,
she burned a hole through her throat.

Well-polished and looked clean
I had never known a girl from Manchester Green.
Too nervous to speak to me,
she grabbed a bottle, so that she could breathe.

Strangling me with her Tiffany necklace,
I pinched my pennies to avoid being reckless.
I caught her falling for another dose,
As I fell for the blonde in the cashmere coat.

I picked her brain about the dust in her nose,
“you can't **** the young.”
Words confined to my tongue

This was just another secret tryst,
she was never much of a romanticist.
601 · Nov 2017
The Nickel
The nickel is like my mother
A dull exterior from the exchanges
traveled from state to state since ‘59
Once glistening with a smooth edge,
now chipped and *****
The satisfaction in Tom Jefferson’s face
faded and weak
But it still has value

New York raised and proud
now residing in the uncomfortably quiet countryside
Once shining with ambition
an attitude of devotion  
Struck with 58 years of
unexpected endings and isolation
But she still has value

Some people let go of their change
They say,
"it is a nuisance"
they prefer crisp dollars
Warm in my hands,
I am not afraid to hold onto mine
545 · Jul 2019
Jungle Politics
As the intimately familiar screech
of an emergency alert is issued, a displaced

plastic bottle streams along the flooded sidewalk.
Sudan still does not have sustainable water.

The mouths of widowed women and bludgeoned children
run dry. Darfur is a skeleton.

The death of the last male northern white rhino,
named Sudan, receives more coverage than the genocide.

In 2016, a photographer
received award from the World Press contest

for capturing seven-year-old Adam Abdel’s extensive burns
After his own government bombed his village,

Adam received displacement.
388 · Nov 2017
Compulsion (draft #1)
I'm romantically drained
I have nothing left in me
As the record spins to play,
It's needle in my arm is longing to be
scratching another smooth surface
And the pendulum swings

My vices run like clockwork
Words lump under my tongue
Weeds grown over the earth
You can't **** the young
379 · Mar 2019
Violet Gum
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"
367 · Jan 2019
Nubuck Knuckles (draft #1)
my knuckles are a sandpaper
stained with cherry wine
a muddied grape metacarpal
as talented as the devil,
yet naive like a child
355 · May 2019
The Matador / Honeymoon
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"
339 · Aug 2019
peeling wallpaper
2. unembossed boarskin
3. sunburnt mahogany
4. sequin firewood
5. bible page bark
6. chocolate tendrils
7. exfoliating exoskeleton
8. bleached crimson
9. acid wash chestnut
10. sycamore's elbow
325 · Mar 2019
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
319 · Feb 2019
These Men
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"
304 · Feb 2019
Triptych: Mater Christi
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.
248 · May 2019
War On Drugs
When my adrenaline caught a breath
of sandalwood musk, and a hint of
disinfectant from an anxious party host,
I knew I was entering the war.
Discolored shoes shuffling

over a film of beer
that dirtied the parents'
checkered tiles.
Medallions peeking
through unbuttoned shirts,

dancing and grooving until the
basement lights snapped
their joints awake.
They went to war
over Colombian Gold.

It smelled of strange fruit,
with earthy notes
that lingered throughout
the boys' hair; styled to hide
the nape of their necks.

They talked about the war
through the lines of demarcation
on their chapped lips
and cotton ball mouths.
One boy offered me a pill.
from "Evenings in Jackson Heights"
177 · May 2019
the oak frames and polyester tarp peel
like the hawkers’ chapped lips.
Where I come from,

a collection of relics litters the street:
single-use syringes  
having abandoned their craftsmanship.

A foreign couple flashes their dialect,
and suddenly everyone listens.

There are no neighborhood parks,
as they had been told,
only a routine array of displacement.

A young woman with painted eyes  
stands over the rot  
of an abandoned children’s museum.

Even the divet in a curbside mattress  
remains unaccompanied.

What is more terrifying?  
being raised in a city built for crime,  
or a city built for no one.
from "Black Bones" collection
152 · May 2019
Vertigo Wallpaper
I don’t want to watch the wallpaper yellow.
The floral patterns cause vertigo,
while the hallways whisper
gospel sounds
and talk of gelatin for dessert.

I’m afraid that when I fall for another man,
he will have a shearling wheelchair.
he will be a caregiver
raising the crooked footrest.

There won’t be quinoa substitute
or aperitif.
My meals will likely be
a glass of sulfur water and
mixed vegetables dressed in gravy.

Derived from a cheap grocery list
where my name is written
In between “milk” and “flour”
Because I was not remembered.
from "Evenings In Jackson Heights"
My bones are a fine charcoal
marrow and expensive ink
Cracked enamel and paint
slowly  staining my mother’s sink
from "Black Bones" collection
121 · Aug 2019
Green eyes (pt. ii)
I've never dated a girl with green eyes,
Mine always had brown

I like how tender
the whites of their eyes stand
against the pigment

But the more I look at them
the harder it is
to get away from myself

— The End —