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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Aphemia

My eyelids were startled awake
by these artificial lights
they tend to ignite
without “informed consent,”
to interrupt my daydreams.
How dare they
staccato my visions to
check my “vital signs.”
My rhythm’s fine,
aligned with syncopated
common time fuming
from the jazz bar
you just barged yourself into;
and now you introduce yourself?
How typical…

Wishing to
transform these bulbs
into the floor’s essence
to give more meaning to their name
I size up this newbie;
hoping to relay the message.
She glared back,
as if my message needed postage
to be received,
as if it were a cryptex replica,
that can only be deciphered
by projecting a riddle
onto her optic disks.
Well, you can keep your two-cents
in that barking meter mouth of yours.
I don’t need to hear your opinion
of what you “think” I’m saying
and I hope,
the verdict of your senses
are expeditious in expiring.
As they ferment on your tongue
you can choke on your PhD,
and every other acronym
that adds another zero
to your pride and…
I hope you do good today,
sweetheart .
You remind me of my own
that rarely comes to visit and
I’m sorry, I just
don’t know how to show gratitude.

I attempted
to point at the switch,
and she seemed to understand
if only for a moment.
My heart raced
as her hand
reached for the wall,
then overshot the target
for my sweater;
how considerate.
I pointed lower,
she reached for my wheelchair;
lower still
and she reached for my shoes.
Yes, of course I want to put them on,
before my socks preferably.
She must’ve sensed my frustration,
it was mirrored in her eyes
and her tears seemed to go unnoticed,
apparently for some time.

What has become of me?
How come they don’t understand?
She left sobbing,
hit the light switch
and I was alone again;
searching for my soul
in darkness,
speechless.

Unanswered

They saw him,
the one that somehow,
has the power to magnify
pupils to judge,
magnetize fingers to point,
hypnotize laughter to echo
from every
other
person,
and be his passenger
on this cold bench,
that buses his thoughts
to escape routes
he’s still looking for.

On rare occasions,
he finds sugar in the sand
falling from the eyes of a child,
a coinage of empathy to savor
between the denim and lint,
and the piece of mind
he swears to voice
to the next listening soul
if one ever existed.

He swears to pray
to the next omnipotent
if the skies weren’t vacant;
he desires to whisper:
“Remain forever human,”
if he could just
laugh off the irony
of being mute.

We saw him,
slouched posture
and broken contour;
he was a dark room,
with negative prints
of his ethnic background
hung in the noose of his subconscious.
On an airbrushed afternoon
he felt threatened,
that every memory he possessed
would be exposed
in the twilight,
lost before he’d be willing to share
the only thing he considers
his own,
the reason as to why
he has these scars.

So now
he’s freeze tagging
everything that moves,
hoping they’ll remain
right where he left them;
motionless and waiting,
concrete as the gazes
that pave him,
and as invisible
as his essence.

For the first time
I saw him,
not for the man he was
or will be
but in the right now:
the defaced of humanity,
the victim of verbal vandalism
an imprisoned prism
never met with a ray of hope
so his favorite color
is the absence of it.

He’s the scratched,
scrawled,
graffitied soul
inked and blotched
to the bench he sits,
aerosolized into a cliché
the world
will never miss.

Men Don’t Cry

We have dismantled
our lacrimal apparatuses,
exfoliated expressions of affection
to skeleton stoicism,
exorcised the sentient
from our innateness
and replaced it
with the petrified lies
our facade has become.

This exoskeleton of invincibility
still has vulnerabilities,
invisible to the naivety
we’re programmed to dismiss but
we are no gods or supermen,
no heroes or titans
merely men fed flaws
to be coldblooded,
but we bleed to thaw the rugged,
ruthless,
thoughtless,
crudeness
only to be stuffed with the steroids
of a beguiling media
that has left us
as fetuses muscling
through the median
of the meaning of manhood.

Yet she asks me
to be sensitive,
and I would
if I could but
the sensitivity in me
was aborted during childhood,
adopted by a fear of feeling
and raised to ricochet
rays of emotions
as if I were anaphylactic
to synapse the syntax
of her request.

So I’m three words shy
of a strike out,
the nth inning
of this relationship
before she becomes
a home-run-away from me.
Apologies and excuses
is all I’ve ever managed to dugout,
when all she ever wanted
was a touchdown of my time.