More Than an Address

Last month, 
my heart beat itself
into my 29th lap at life, 
14 years deep 
in spilling ink
and I have yet
to address you. 

You, 
born to islanders for parents
that spoke a dialect of love
so broken, 
it could be translated
into abuse 
all too easily. 

You, 
with the mother
that chose to raise daughter
instead of son
for a sum of reasons
I still can’t calculate. 

You, 
with the austere father
that robbed you of weekends, 
summer breaks, 
sleep-ins, 
and childhood days
to secure a man that knows
he, who cheats himself
from labor today, 
saves himself the crumbs
for his daily bread tomorrow. 

Last night, 
the eyes of the woman I love
inquired for the inventory
to my damage. 
Internally,
the barcode of my lashes 
pitched a price too high 
for my pride to break the bank. 

But verbally, 
I complied. 
My reply:
“I never felt
like I was enough.”

At times, 
parental love
felt rationed. 
At times, 
I envied the island
from whence they came
because the dialect
of the ocean’s love 
was all encompassing and 
I just wanted to be
loved that way. 

How, 
in a house with two kids
did I feel like the third option to love? 
Why, 
did I have to question
if blood was thicker than water? 
When, 
were you going to inform me
that I was something worth bragging about
well after the party was over, 
well after church luncheon? 

This,
may not be a confessional
but I needed you to be real with me. 
Some twenty odd laps at life
still searching for approval 
isn’t the idea formula for sanity,
or the blueprint
for constructing a man’s confidence. 
Fourteen years of spilled ink
got me skilled to sink
in someone else’s moccasins, 
when I just needed you to show me
how to walk in my own. 

I needed to know
what home felt like,
needed to see 
that it was more than walls, 
more than ceiling. 
I needed to know
it was comprised of feeling
more than longing, 
of loving and belonging 
to something more than an address
I used to call home. 

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Question

When the sincerity in her eyes
inquires a deeper response than
“I’m fine,”
when her gaze
shifts in a way
to implore of you:
“What’s wrong;” 
know that no soul
will ever care more. 

Understand, 
her gentle demands 
stems from a place 
her hands desire 
to realign your vertebrae of belief
in yourself,
for yourself. 

Acknowledge, 
that she has put her
personal battles on pause
to gird up and battle 
for your war. 
She’ll lend you her strength
in the form of untiring limbs
and an unselfish yet bruised heart 
in hopes of restoring 
the king in you. 

So be honest. 
Show her the chinks 
in your armor, 
the broken 
in your smile, 
the fissures 
in your laughter. 
Show her
that you bleed, 
prove 
that you’re human
and she will patch you
with a love 
you need not question,
a love 
just for you. 

Letter to My Unborn Daughter 

Dear love of mine, 

it has come to my attention 
that you’re stealing 
the beginnings
of your Mama’s poem, 
so let me start by saying this:
You’ll be all
and nothing like her. 

Your eyes
will never be baptized
into the pains that she has felt, 
when her pupils 
dilated to discover her worth
need not be assessed by men 
who only want to perform price checks
but are never committed to buy. 

I will deluge you with a love 
that appreciates your value daily,
so much so 
that you will never be bought. 
Every man will always be
an honest compliment shy, 
a touch of love too short, 
an insufficient fund away
to get you to stay. 

My dear, 
I have no intentions
of giving your hand away, 
but I’ve already composed this score 
for the occasion. 
I pray, 
the day that it comes
I will be less of the man I am today
and more of the man
you’ll need me to be. 
Lord knows, 
I’ve never been in a fight
a day in my life
but I will go to war for you. 
I will battle your demons. 
I will vanquish your foes. 
I will dismantle every man
that desires to treat you as some – 
word that I shouldn’t say. 

May he respect you 
long after he has earned your love. 
May he love you
long after he has earned your trust. 
May he trust you
as if he’s learned that he must 
because 
hearts don’t break around here. 
My darling, 
you won’t break when I’m near. 

So call me. 
Call me when you need me,
call me when you don’t. 
Call me when he forgets your birthday, 
you’ll already know that I won’t;
just
call me. 

Even though we’ve yet to meet,
at this point in my life
I’ve already loved you more
than any woman I’ve ever met. 
I have vowed 
to resurrect the best of myself
to give over to you
so you’ll always have faith 
in love. 

All I’ll need you to do
is breathe easy. 
Remember, 
that sometimes love will feel
like you’ve been shortchanged;
a part of you
will want to curl into a fist, 
you’ll wish 
that you’ve never met men. 
I’ll wish 
that they’ve never met you.  

You, 
with the dimpled smile
you borrowed from your mother. 
You, 
my unborn princess 
I vow to love like no other. 
You, 
will always be my sunshine,
my only sunshine. 

Road Trip

He held her, 
like the shuddering soup
in a ceramic bowl
gone cold
on a road trip with potholes;
hands trembling 
with mistakes, 
steady 
with his effort
to hold her together. 

Things 
were bound
to get messy. 
She
was bound to escape,
but he’d love her just the same
only she needed not
a love that played safe.

He held her,  
like the moment
you jump off plane
and dive into sky. 
He was clutching for her life
as much as he thought
she was for his but, 
she fell in love with
free falling into herself, 
when nothing about his actions 
ever made her feel
more grounded. 

His words
were parachute, 
his hands
confounded, 
his touch
felt like calculus, 
rigid
and rugged. 
Tender 
is the lesson you learn
when you kamikaze your heart
to spark another’s 
into flames. 

But love felt
rehearsed here.  
He said
all the right things
at all the wrong times;
but could never
nurse her hurt here. 
He spoke
often to her mind, 
when she craved a whisper
to her heart. 

So if you’re going to love her, 
love her bold. 
If you’re going to heal her, 
heal her whole. 
Give her something 
to hold on to. 
Give her something 
to believe 
that there’s more spine 
behind the letters you construct, 
than the bones
you align in your closet. 

She’s aching to trust in a future
that doesn’t resemble
familiar road trips
that left her stranded beside herself,
hitchhiking her way
back through the potholes 
she spilled herself into.
At least she knows
where to find herself,
do you?

Break Even

I needed you
to break me Irish Spring
bar soap clean.
Needed you to break me
like cellphone screen shatters
the day after warranty
and no insurance
to play safety net with.
Needed you to break me
in higher definition,
play me back
at thirty frames a second
so the fractures in my smile
can be seen
with more meaning. 

Then,
let the shards
fall where they may,
but if I have any say,
let them fall
where I’ve known love the strongest,
known love the deepest.
Embed me
back into the walls
of your veins
to pulse back into your heart.
Inscribe me
into one of your valves
so I can feel
the current of your love again.
Chamber me
into one of your ventricles
and I will pump
more than a heroic effort
to keep us alive. 

Just,
don’t let me feel
like I’m paddling ashore
with one oar;
circling for reasons
why you’d leave
without a ripple of an excuse
to wave by me.
I always thought
we had more depth than that,
more weight
than our mass. 

But if that’s not the case
break me deep,
break me even.
I’ll add the odds of myself
into a sum short of you
to keep me whole. 

Leave the Gloves

When true love
formally introduces herself
it’ll feel like
a sparring match gone wrong.
She’ll be seasoned in MMA
and carry an unblemished record
in the UFC
and you?
You’ll be decorated
with hand-me-down gloves
from a family tree
that left you ill-prepared
to land a love tap,
and forget about defense. 

She’ll punch you
square in the face.
Laugh.
Ask if you’re okay,
then repeat.
You won’t find
any of this funny,
but she’s just trying
to knock your ex
out of your future conversations;
so if you lose any teeth today,
you won’t lose their wisdom tomorrow. 

She
will then jab you with a combo,
a multiplicity of questions
to question your masculinity.
You
will pretend to be unphased
until she has you in a choke hold asking:
“Who’s
your
Daddy?” 

Understand,
she’s not trying to offend,
she just
needs to make sure
you know who you are
before approaching the mat.
Far too many men
have desired to fill her in
with half-hearted efforts
in filling themselves.
Now that she’s whole
she’s searching for another mind
to color out of the lines with and,
is that you? 

She’s going to play dirty.
Land cheap shots
below the belt,
connect your jaw
with an uppercut
after the bell has rung but,
there’s no refs in love.
The rounds
are eternal and
she’s going to need you to fight;
and if you can’t stand
on your own two feet
in a sparring match then,
tap out now.
Letting go
is the least you can do.
Please,
leave the gloves
for someone who’s worthy. 

In a Burning Room 

Trust. 
I built her once. 

Cemented into her foundation 
was time well spent, 
patience, 
bloody knees well bent 
upon pavements
to plead my case
for a love that lied latent
for you. 

I prayed
for my emotions
not to be preyed upon. 
Prayed, 
for my heart’s strings
not to be played upon, 
for some
altar of a heart
I could be saved upon but,
I was wrong. 

Altars are made of stone
not to build faith upon. 
So how could I expect yours
to hold mine dear 
like a sacred song
full of promise,
full of truth.

If I’m honest, 
and I were you, 
I would’ve called it quits
from “Hello, 
how are you?” 
“I’m…?  
not interested, 
but thank you.” 

Truth is 
you would’ve still had me at
hell no, 
but at least
I could blame myself
for wanting to be the pyromaniac
trying to light
the nothingness between us,
for trying to be the flame
your wick of attention
would never give a flicker of notice. 

I guess
what I’m trying to say is:
there’d be no museum
of betrayed memories to walk through
if you 
had any appreciation
for the art of honesty. 

I hung portraits 
of my intentions
as tokens 
of every act towards you
so you’d already know
the inspiration
behind every stroke. 

Little did I know 
you had me painting
masterful illusions of our future;
permitted me to sell
these fanciful delusions
to those who only wished the best for us. 

Little did I know, 
the only image I ever sold
was solely of me
slow dancing
in a burning room.