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.
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,
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.
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
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
What, of the bar,?
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,
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.
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.
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.
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