Afterpulse


I.               News

 

Your lip is bleeding, she said

& I kept my tongue there

to cover it up.

 

My whole face went from one terrain

in which we must keep living

to a place of three

 

This land is your land

 

One is my family, this land,

& each of their gun shot wounds

digging against each so gay piece of tissue

 

This land is

 

Each torn blood vessel, each bone shard, each cell,

 

Orlando. Home of Disney World.

Not to be confused with Disney

Land. My land which is oh much smaller.

 

Our. Flesh. Another terra is where I am, now, O,

a conversation about somebody’s job, a kid’s teacher,

or their dog which I should care about—

 

Land. I don’t. Their cat. This. Their mouth. Their weekend.

Another world this land is my body,

each rib in movement away from its neighbor rib;

 

the way the lungs fill in a drowning

 

this way          then that              then nothing         Like

 

two linked wedding rings stretching? A blood

test after staring at the mess of your sheets? Here

 

This land is our

 

is a tribe resurfacing itself.


 

II.             Bonfire

 

I take you back to the fire & then you search

for more firewood. When the smoke

enters the gray sky, it just blends

 

for what feels like forever until the moon

comes and sets it free with some cliché light.

 

But we are not in the moonlight.

 

We stoke fire and allow the kindle to make

in our skin, a perfume. I keep that smell.

It’s a smell I keep.

 

On the news, they don’t know whether

to call it terror or hate. I call it cells

 

with broken membranes, wounds penetrated,

families salt-faced, & the medics of

 

the American Red Cross

 

as they turn us away. Are you a male

who has had sexual contact

 

with another male, even once,

since 1977?

 

It’s right there, in the screening,

 

right after the drug needle question

& the prostitution one.

 

You find an old fence and break it up,

throw it into the fire.

 

Here they go, here they are.

 

Even once. Remember the first time

you were turned away?

I do. I was in college.

 


 

III.            Work

 

At the pizza place where they usually have CNN

 

they play movies, & my lover and I               watch the movies.

 

 

At Dunkin Donuts the men who sit by the news sit

 

on the other side         of the news & the volume is low.

 

 

At the announcement in Florida, the governor

 

will call this a nightclub                     & erase the word gay

 

 

At work, they say, How is your day

 

It is not a real question.          There was never any mark—

 

 

At work, they say, I pledge allegiance to the flag

 

to tell us, It’s everyday here. No           moment          

 

 

Which why bother anyway so I move on      from one task

 

& into the next, back and forth                      as though rowing                  

 

 

through the river Lethe. But the news, the car radio,

 

that’s different. The news plays                     the sad music.

 

 

They blame everyone.

                                                A moment of silence:

 

That is when my voice dies.


 

IV.           The [Straight] Bar

 

The crossword in the newspaper:

Queen who lived in New York City

I’m just thankful to have made it this far.

 

There are things I didn’t tell him

about when I was drunk and yelled at the bartender.

 

Things even I don’t want to recall. Forget it:

 

There are a lot of queens in New York City

 

& I saw a car accident from my rear

view mirror today—some Chevy

 

blew a light

& slammed into the Suburu whose

 

parking spot I took.

 

Recall the day I learned of their deaths.

Only a sound could really embody

this longing to have known you.

 

Oh, everyone’s plans get ruined this weekend

No one even tried to predict the traffic.

 

Don’t be that guy who gets in fights at bars

 

No one was hurt in the accident. To disre-

member. Don’t be—

 

But what can I say? The guy

 

across another bar just last week

made a limp wrist at my lover and me

 

then laughed.

 

In CPR training, they repeat:

Check. Call. Care. I don’t

even get out of my car.

 

It was the bloody Mary

that did me in.


 

V.             This is a list poem

 

Stanley Almodovar III                  23 years old

 

Amanda Alvear          25

 

Oscar A Aracena-Montero           26 years old

 

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala                          33

 

Antonio Davon Brown           29

 

Darryl Roman Burt II                          29 years old

 

Angel        L. Candelario-Padro                         28

 

Juan Chevez-Martinez           25 years old

 

Luis Daniel Conde      39

 

Cory James Connell          21 years old

 

Tevin Eugene Crosby                         25

 

Deonka Deidra Drayton         32 years old

 

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez                       31

 

Leroy Valentin Fernandez                 25

 

Mercedez Marisol   Flores                              26 years old

 

Peter          O.        Gonzalez-Cruz                       22 years

 

Juan Ramon Guerrero                          22 years

 

Paul Terrell Henry                       41

 

Frank Hernandez       27

 

Miguel Angel                    Honorato        30 years old

 

Javier Jorge-Reyes      40

 

Jason Benjamin Josaphat                    19       years               old

 

Eddie Jamoldroy               Justice                                   30

 

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla                        25 years old

 

Christopher Andrew Leinonen          32

 

Alejandro              Barrios                         Martinez         21 years old

 

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool            49

 

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez       25 years old

 

Kimberly Morris               37

 

Akyra Monet Murray                         18        years   yes       18

 

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo                          20 years old

 

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez                   25

 

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera                        36

 

Joel Rayon Paniagua   32

 

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez     35 years old

 

Enrique L.                         Rios,                Jr.        25

 

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez                    27 years old

 

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado                35

 

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz                     24 years old

 

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan                            24

 

Edward Sotomayor Jr.            34 years old

 

Shane Evan Tomlinson                 33

 

Martin Benitez Torres            33 years old

 

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega               24

 

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez                                     37

 

Luis S. Vielma                         22 years

 

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez            50 years old

 

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon                    37 years old

 

Jerald Arthur Wright                          31 years old

 


 

VI. Ask

What, of the bar,?

is left?

Whose cock-tail?

Whose Corona?

Is there caution tape

perimeterizing all that space, 

a corner of the bar, lifting

a silent glass,

the Manhattan's cherry

marinating at the base of a vessel?

What, of the bar, remains?

I know about the blood brown

dance floor, about the torn walls

& hollow doorways.

I know there must be holes

through the drywall,

no matter how thick.

But can we resurrect

that last screwdriver,

if only to sip it?

& what will they do

with the building?

Will they return,

paint it with murals

or with lacquer,

then restart the retreat,

the whole thing

the whole thing meaning us

or will they blow it up

with some ceremonial dynamite,

fireworks grinding

against the edifice,

sift steady, push now—

So that it's all fall

like a forgotten Pall Mall, left

to its ash tray, now its cloud?

Yesterday I locked myself

out of my car. I climbed in

through the sun roof.


 

VII.  Hike

 

When one poured your coffee & another was your army captain

 

When the sweat poured from the bathroom wall until it was taped with explosives

 

When the only flower you want is hyacinth and they banned that with the sodomy laws

 

When the man at the bar says, Why can't every bar be a gay bar?

in earnest, sweet thing, not even a root

 

When you tell him there is not even a rainbow on this door

not even a flag to say welcome

 

When the boy's mother holds a flower and that flower is not hyacinth

but some other flower for her grief

 

When one counted your pills for you & another changed your mother's sheets

 

When the Manhattan’s cherry circles with the circumference of its stirrer

            Red red red

 

When we're all human erases the human, not even a pink-tinged root

 

When the hospital becomes a human and cannot find another bed

 

It goes searching, O Captain, where?

 

When the flights are full that get us there

 

Will it explode? When to tell the secret of my nights and days,

 

Release me and depart on your way.


VIII.  Beach

 

Then, this turned into a beach poem

with waves & the shore & the word lapping

 

& my lover sleeps next to me, drying out from his swim,

towel splayed next to the hyacinth protruding from the dunes

 

behind us, crotch sand, jeans for a pillow.

I am trying to read as I lay

 

against this mound of sand

but the sun is killing me. All that light.

 

I’m hot. I’m going into the water, I tell him, little Apollo.

It is an announcement. I will breathe salt.

 

Be careful of the rocks,

he says. It’s cold. But it’s beautiful.

 

But when I move down the slope of the beach,

& into the ocean and up again, the sandbar,

 

& I turn around to watch him

sleep, I see myself there next to him, laid

 

& resting on that towel

& my eyes, too, are closed.

 

Copyright © 1999-2017 Juked