*fatherhood first published in Modern Haiku, Volume 48, Number 2, Summer 2017
it began small, spaced,
in the back of my mouth
at the top of my throat.
it felt like a tiny hair
on the root of my tongue,
near where nurses depress.
a small cough, una pequeña tos,
but it soon worsened
in the mornings, at nights,
and while lying down.
deeper, more frequent,
caused my knees to bang together.
it was in my lungs.
there was something
to get up and out,
but i could not.
on the afternoon of my last day
in guatemala, in the city of antigua,
i sat in hot december sun
for an hour, maybe more; i slept.
at the end of that soaking time,
i stood and coughed and coughed
and coughed and coughed
until, jaw wide, i slowly
slither-retched an octopus arm,
deep magenta, bulbous,
large, wide suckers,
veiled in viscous, stringy,
shiny slime. looking closer
in its reflecting wetness: my face,
strangely stretched. even more,
i knew it contained reasons i wept,
things i had come to loathe.
*la tos first published in Carve Magazine
*i dream about going mad, second grader, and born each day first published in The White Elephant
don’t live in new york
he stood jitter by the bar.
black, lonely, self-conscious large,
sweat-clear white collar shirt.
they, a smooth step, words away.
one dressed sway red glitter.
the other, pale, laughing.
he gathers, slow sprouts courage
to cross the chasm, readies.
two men swoop in, boisterous,
engage, like old friends, new lovers,
in the polite sense of it. electric music
mattes the foursome like soundtrack.
black, alone, self-raging,
he steadies his index,
pushes it into the bar candle’s flame.
holds finger, stares through
what is in front of his eyes,
whirls, turns back, slaps cash, leaves
*don’t live in new york first published in Spillway 22
i got my teacher pockets
full of golden tickets,
a crumpled paper airplane,
unfolded; blue and green
a pen cap, black,
a chewed pen, blue.
there’s always juice-
from the bus ride home.
i got back pocket pencils
point end down, for prevention,
they always end up broken.
i take home scissors,
repossessed for reason.
string, yarn; that day we made
masks from paper plates.
like mardi gras,
their perfect black faces
outshone bright glitter and beads.
*teacher pockets first published in Backbone Press