Fallen

She’ll be perfect

for you– I know,

Jo invited me.

I’ll be standing next to you

but not close enough,

holding onto false hopes

but no real dreams, only “but’s.”

Your friend will be in the corner,

mine in California

remembering New York’s flaws

and I’ll say “fuck you”

because I’m from here–

don’t you forget that Mr. Delaware,

Ms. Los Angeles where I saw no evidence

of angels, no saving grave

and when I flew, I flew eastwards.

Breaking my heart gives you too much credit–

you can run my mind,

but my heart finds solace in other things–

all the women I haven’t kissed,

all the male exceptions.

Is she your exception? Another beautiful

brown woman and my white

Puerto Rican ass isn’t good enough?

You’re from Delaware.

You just want “different.”

But enough is–enough. She’ll be

enough, hang her hands over

your neck in public, at parties,

falling hard– while I look up

from the ground.

 

December 29, 2018

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My Body, My Choice

Vinny chats me up as one can do in 8th grade

(as boys can do in 8th grade), and says,

“Girls look better with their hair down.”

 

10th grade:

Allie tells me over pizza in a torn up, faux leather booth:

“People think you’re really pretty.”

 

“Take the bait,” they whisper.

“We are you.”

Your face, your words,

your worth:

we hold them in our hands.

 

I grew fragile.

 

“Not to mention you’re beautiful,”

a text from Devin I saved on my phone for 2 years,

a reminder that if I kept this up,

I could be loved.

“You’re special,” they said.

“Your precise,” they reminded.

“Keep it up.”

I never heard them clearly;

it was always muffled in my ears.

 

Confidence was for the battlefield,

and without cleats on my feet

and a soccer ball underneath

I depended, fully,

on this

damn

face.

 

Middle school:

Vinny was saying he “saw my potential”

and in that moment he pointed a finger at a moon

I did not know — that lights up the sky day and night.

With each step forward from that statement came promise,

like one day my body would, miraculously, lift off the ground and fly.

 

High school: I worked, observed, learned to follow the rules.

I made friends. I chased boys (or at least followed the chasers).

I saw a twinkle form in my eyes like the sun hitting my face

and I felt something grow: confidence big enough to sew a sweater.

That confidence was soft and warm and humble,

each stitch a modest color, so I put it on:

oh, the comfort…the ease.

 

What sweater?

This is my skin, clear as day.

I don’t need all of these words–

they’re woven into my Long Island DNA

and somewhere…somewhere…I seized it.

 

College: I was prepared!

My sweater was woven!

My charm was rooted!

Soccer, friends, face.

 

And then, college happened.

And it was full of devils,

people a mere sweater cannot take on

you want — comfort?

We’ll beat you.

You want — friendship?

We’ll desert you.

You think you’ve got talent?

We’ll show you.

Bam               bam              bam.

My skin faded, my body ached,

and what can a person do but blame what is left?

 

Wisdom swims through my veins.

Nana has her Jesus

and I have my Julia de Burgos

and that’s quite alright with me.

I build a new ship to freedom…

something you cannot wear, but ride–

invisible on all sides, impenetrable,

so much so that my world forgets the words

“break” and “fear” and “fall,”

that Kenny’s story can be his own.

that Marlena’s antagonism can be her own,

and that I can feel the wisdom in me,

the quiet confidence that does not need

a coach to tell me my worth.

 

I just play.

 

December 22, 2018

“B”

I thought I knew you

from another room,

but you said your name was Gaby

and I only knew one of you,

(and I didn’t want to know Gabby again).

So I crumpled up “b” into a box,

pushed it to the back of my closet,

burned the closet,

and looked up, at you.

 

You are bright, flowing, happy.

 

You make New York trees laugh in winter,

the ones with no lights on 27th street,

swaying on sidewalks.

 

The voice, the energy, the knowing.

 

Who knows why.

 

Your voice draws me in:

low and light and dark in one moment,

calm and cool, you collect me up,

make some joke about not knowing street signs

so I laugh,

I walk west,

explain what west means in a city on the East coast,

far from home.

 

I’m wearing the hat that made you laugh

and call me cute, and I smile,

because I know I’ll see you again soon–

new room, new puzzle, one less “b.”

 

December 5, 2018

To Men Who Take But Don’t Give

You’ve taught me:

it’s hard

to love yourself

when you give yourself up

like meat for slaughter

when you’re taught

you are not an animal,

you are the meat;

you are a hole to be filled

and wiped clean afterwards;

you are the microphone

through which he speaks.

 

Even before I fuck you

I’ll remember my name,

part of the heavens you’ve never seen,

let alone touched.

 

Leave me alone to write, without you.

 

Your gaze makes me too tired to speak.

 

This is my time to breathe,

not your time to sink me down with you.

You’re 4 months into America

and you think you can laugh at our president?

Tell me what street to take?

 

Sex led me to you?

 

Is that what we did?

No.

 

You cannot touch

what you cannot see–

your heart is nowhere on this table,

on this bed. Your ego lifts you

(to make up for your small dick).

 

Am I right?

Do you believe in “right”?

Me neither.

But I do believe in justice.

 

What do you believe in?

 

December 6, 2018