trying to fit my feelings
into these words
is like I’m stuffing
twenty-eight green balloons
into a picture frame
first I would hold one down
and release
with a flick of my pen
its pop and hiss

✥✥✥

Mueller Report: long wait, no orgasm.

Barr says Biden probe unlikely.  Liar.

Supreme Court takes case.  Uh oh.

Tell me again how Bernie won.

Florida man sees opening.  Dick stuck.

Faye’s inner battle: which Cheez-Its.  Buffalo.

My face in your mirror: handsome.

I am your lover.  I think.

Deuteragonist means second.  Is that me?

Poem bursts out of rock: pleasure.

Vur-awn-ick-ugh.

The sounds felt clunky on my tongue but still I said them.

After all,
that’s how my mother said it to the new teacher
on the way to
my new classroom
in my new school
in my new neighborhood
in this new world.

At home,
it sounded different.

This was written in response to the people of Hong Kong’s demand for universal suffrage and other democratic reforms.  Protests have been ongoing in the island territory for a while now; things abated with COVID-19, but have roared back.

The Hong Kong people are protesting the Mainland Chinese government’s shameless attempt to ram unconstitutional national security laws through its rubber-stamp legislature, bypassing the territory’s own legislature and Basic Law (the island’s mini-constitution). The  Chinese government has dropped all pretense that Hong Kong is a quasi-independent territory, and its tactics are increasingly alarming and inhumane.  The government has turned Hong Kong’s common law legal system, widely regarded as one of Asia’s finest, into a mockery, jailing dissidents and retaliating against those engaging in civil disobedience.

Further, and laughably, the Mainland Chinese government has asserted that Hong Kong’s colonial-era policing laws are insufficient to quell the protests.  This, of course, is ridiculous as British Hong Kong was in fact used as a testing ground for the Crown’s most brutal riot-policing tactics.  Suppression is as heavy-handed and relentless as it was decades ago.  Only the master has changed.

This poem is fundamentally in response to the Chinese government’s callous disregard for the people of Hong Kong.  The nature and character of the territory’s democratic system, with rights hard-earned in the post-colonial era, will be irreparably damaged by the government’s actions.  The poem is a fictional account of a protestor and their establishment/government partner; it can be read as a queer poem because some of the most-visible leaders of the protests are queer people.  This is all the more controversial in the conservative territory where many people do not even come out to their friends and loved ones.


Fire alarm, 3 a.m.
Feet shuffling
Soldiers marching
Ball and chain
Innocent eyes
Central Park Five
Hey, he said, voice thick with sleep
Don’t go out, Blue Shirt warned
He obeyed, he hid
Firefighters and police came and went
Ruse to flush him out

Anyone’s Son is the title of your debut poetry collection. Tell us about this title. Why did you choose it? What does it mean to you?

Titles are important to me. When I have finished a poem or short story—or in this case, an entire collection—one of my favorite approaches to choosing a title is to read what I’ve written very closely, looking for a word or phrase that resonates, that feels evocative. One of the poems in my opening chapter references a Time magazine cover story of October 21, 1969—“The Homosexual in America.” The cover itself features a photograph in closeup, of an ordinary young man, though the colors have been manipulated—harsh green, baby pink, bruised purple. As I wrote the poem, I studied the cover image, and suddenly it occurred to me: “this was a face that might have been anyone’s son.” Often, growing up gay, finding a place for myself as a gay man, I have felt estranged from my straight peers. But the truth is that I might have been anyone’s son, that any parent might have a gay son or daughter, that any of us might have been the “other” that we thoughtlessly fall into judging.

He loved the night sky over Loraine, accent
on both syllables—low rain—loved the taste
of the name in his mouth, the sound of his town-
folk talking. He loved lying flat on his back
that summer, dusk pulsing with crickets, dreaming
the Great Hunter. He knew the story, the bright
stars, Betelgeuse his favorite—shoulder of the giant
he dreamed roping, star of a rodeo that glittered
like Rex Allen’s spangled shirt under banked lights,
his unleashed smile. The boy carried that brightness

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


Is it a sin I get drunk with home?
That I fall in love so much?
I take dearly shots from the ardor
brewed in the states. I pledge to
serve my nation and bring glory home.

When I was born, no one reminded me
that I’m a helpless bastard; no one
reminded me of the day my stay starts
to due. Not for once has it crossed
my mind to think I’m too convenient
to stay, that I’m but a black-headed
threat to the place I call my home.

the Thursday morning storm in bed
with you while the cat sleeps perched
on his scratching-tree the room’s hot
the fan whirs and we’re draped in my
favorite childhood blanket seventies
pattern orange and brown lines like
heart monitor displays the green-
painted walls and faux-Japanese
writing on the wallpaper border
half-open drawers with clothes
hanging out gum and drool
a makeshift sheet we call the
blinds hanging behind us
gray clouds behind that
the roar of the garbage
truck workers handle
our last week in rain

why are you doing a self-interview?

Rich asked that I do a self-interview which really feels kind of weird asking myself or responding to my own questions. But I’m always asking myself questions, so I guess this is a part of a natural process for me.

I was born in a crossfire hurricane…(jumping jack flash – the Rolling Stones)

I’m acting out because I don‘t know who my daddy is,
the name space on my birth certificate says
“bad bitch, missus of mayhem.”
Who lets strangers name their daughter, Katrina?
I’m the bastard of 200 mph counter clockwise
rusted razor, coiled 150 miles wide
and vertical to the sun’s underbelly
ready to strike victim and innocence;
sent here to sever family below kneecap and Medicaid

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


for N’Jadaka

 

Share? Huh.  Naw, son.  Y’all act like

air is some infinite resource. Some body

gon’ need to make a speedy exit off this

here block. Once, before I knew better, I did

like y’all taught me to do in grade school

when I was lost & walked up to the nearest

cop & asked how a boy could get off. & he

drank me in & said

 

on the tip of my cocked gun, ______.

Redrum

By KnightKrawler

Poem

In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.


(This poem dedicates itself to the city of Jacksonville and its astonishingly high murder rate. It’s sad that every time I perform this piece in the hometown, majority of the audience doesn’t even seem to realize that I’m talking about Jacksonville. Hopefully this poem will get to someone that needs to hear it.)

This city has developed…a taste for something
The more it drinks…
The more it wants…
No matter what…spirit you crave for
You drink enough…it gets you drunk

There was a girl…that read a book
And for this…the girl was shot
This did not…begin the tragedy
But it made us…stop and watch

The chants grow loud, loud, louder
Echoing like waves throughout the masses, crying out for change.
The thumping in my chest,
a metronome for the lyrics
of the People drumming down these streets.

/no justice, no peace/

No, there will be no backing down,
no staying quiet,
no staying stagnant,
no staying complacent.

Why a Black man can’t breathe
In the land his ancestors
Built
Barehanded, chained, cuffed,
Brutalized, enslaved,
I won’t understand.
Knee on his neck, saying “I can’t breathe”
I. Can’t. Breathe.
The proverbial knee
Of white supremacy

I have been thinking a lot, lately

about the Mayans

and what god-gristle slimed in sparkles

down their wrists

when all too often

they peaked inside singing

a heart-stealing we will go-

love needs air give it air!

and is this not

the ultimate sacrifice?