I Must Become a Menace to My Enemies

Dedicated to the Poet Agostinho Neto,
President of The People’s Republic of Angola: 1976

1
I will no longer lightly walk behind
a one of you who fear me:
Be afraid.
I plan to give you reasons for your jumpy fits
and facial tics
I will not walk politely on the pavements anymore
and this is dedicated in particular
to those who hear my footsteps
or the insubstantial rattling of my grocery
cart
then turn around
see me
and hurry on
away from this impressive terror I must be:
I plan to blossom bloody on an afternoon
surrounded by my comrades singing
terrible revenge in merciless
accelerating
rhythms
But
I have watched a blind man studying his face.
I have set the table in the evening and sat down
to eat the news.
Regularly
I have gone to sleep.
There is no one to forgive me.
The dead do not give a damn.
I live like a lover
who drops her dime into the phone
just as the subway shakes into the station
wasting her message
canceling the question of her call:

fulminating or forgetful but late
and always after the fact that could save or
condemn me

I must become the action of my fate.

2
How many of my brothers and my sisters
will they kill
before I teach myself
retaliation?
Shall we pick a number?
South Africa for instance:
do we agree that more than ten thousand
in less than a year but that less than
five thousand slaughtered in more than six
months will
WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME?

I must become a menace to my enemies.

3
And if I
if I ever let you slide
who should be extirpated from my universe
who should be cauterized from earth
completely
(lawandorder jerkoffs of the first the
terrorist degree)
then let my body fail my soul
in its bedeviled lecheries

And if I
if I ever let love go
because the hatred and the whisperings
become a phantom dictate I o-
bey in lieu of impulse and realities
(the blossoming flamingos of my
wild mimosa trees)
then let love freeze me
out.

I must become
I must become a menace to my enemies.

A Litany for Survival

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours;

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive

Brazilian Is Not a Race #16

A border, like race, is a cruel fiction
Maintained by constant policing, violence
Always threatening a new map. It takes
Time, lots of people’s time, to organize
The world this way. & violence. It takes more
Violence. Violence no one can confuse for
Anything but violence. So much violence
Changes relationships, births a people
They can reason with. These people are not
Us. They underestimate the violence.
It’s been awhile. We are who we are
To them, even when we don’t know who we
Are to each other & culture is a
Record of us figuring that out.

Tired

I am so tired of waiting,
Aren't you,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two -
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.

i fight with my girlfriend because the fascists want me dead

i initially think we fight out of hunger,
because she looked for the pills and i put them in the oven.
i had to take care of my mother at 14
when she cried like alice.
we reached el yunque’s peak
to see only water and wind.

i have a list of reasons in my bag.
reasons to hate yourself and all others by extension:

             first reason:
my father has cancer.
             the same father who would vote for trump,
                           if he wasn’t puertorriqueño,
    but he is puertorriqueño, like his cancer,                   
                           his very puertorriqueño cancer.

             fifth reason:

here my friends hoard hormones,
there my friends spent years stealing from the state that stole their
resources, which don’t exist.

             twelfth reason:

i feel rage towards my white friends,
            who don’t care about the imposition of the control board,
                          for whom this is the first dictatorship.
            i’m crying at them the rage i feel toward my gf,
                          but i let it go because i’m worried about their sweetness.

miscellaneous reasons:

i can’t breathe in basements.
the codified letters are to be read with a metronome.
this chest//rage//discordant ink.
fascism isn’t new.
             fascism lived in condado.
                          fascism pushed my face into the sand
                                       when it reached our beaches.
who cares is fascism’s motto.
who cares if the minimum wage goes down in puerto rico.
who cares if all your people die slowly.
fascism is so not-new, that i don’t know the difference
between the rage i feel and the rage i felt.

i fight with my gf because she opened the window and it was cold.
           i fight with her because it’s cold and i’m not in puerto rico.
i fight with her because the lamplight is too strong.
           i fight with her because it isn’t the río piedras sun.

the fascists want us dead.
neither one of us says it because it’s obvious,
like saying capitalism is the root of all our problems.
it’s so obvious we forget,
or we want to forget because destroying it feels impossible,
when barely living is too much.

i fight with my girlfriend because she forgets
            my boricua friend’s name
and because i’m tired.
i self-medicate with poems.
i do rebirth rituals.
i fight with her because i love too much for these times,
because love is an elemental resource,
but never as elemental as self-defense,
which is the most love of all the loves.

we fight because it’s 12,
because a day doesn’t pass where we aren’t afraid,
because all the cross streets read enemy,
because any white man could be armed,
because i am boricua and they record my conversations,
because she is jewish and carries numbers in her blood,
because the fascists are organized
             to kill us.
these are obvious things, things we know,
things that reverberate.

many theorists say trauma is time out of joint.
the audiotrack speed
doesn’t match the images.
my mouth also doesn’t say what my face wants;
the words come out too fast and hurtful, 
as if it didn’t recognize her.
i think trauma is more like
            they put the audiotrack on another series,
                        as if i spoke for her
and she spoke for the fascists.
it’s so obvious those aren’t her words
it’s so obvious, like saying
capitalism is the root of all our problems
or we can’t fight if we are dead.

Poem About Police Violence

Tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop
you think the accident rate would lower subsequently?
sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
comes back to my mouth and I am quiet
like Olympian pools from the running
mountainous snows under the sun

sometimes thinking about the 12th House of the Cosmos
or the way your ear ensnares the tip
of my tongue or signs that I have never seen
like DANGER WOMEN WORKING

I lose consciousness of ugly bestial rapid
and repetitive affront as when they tell me
18 cops in order to subdue one man
18 strangled him to death in the ensuing scuffle
(don't you idolize the diction of the powerful: subdue
and scuffle my oh my) and that the murder
that the killing of Arthur Miller on a Brooklyn
street was just a "justifiable accident" again
(Again)

People been having accidents all over the globe
so long like that I reckon that the only
suitable insurance is a gun
I'm saying war is not to understand or rerun
war is to be fought and won

sometimes the feeling like amaze me baby
blots it out/the bestial but
not too often tell me something
what you think would happen if
everytime they kill a black boy
then we kill a cop
everytime they kill a black man
then we kill a cop

you think the accident rate would lower subsequently

[Somewhere in Los Angeles] This Poem is Needed

She charges her ankle bracelet // from the kitchen chair

            & Sunflowers in the white wallpaper [begin to wilt].

 

I wilt with them // before my sister // & her probation

            Officer [who comes over to the house unannounced].

 

Just as we are // preparing dinner // & what are we supposed to

            Do now. Cook for him?! Invite him to eat with us??

 

 
 

I am hacking the heads [from broccoli stems] & pretending

            His body is spread across the cutting board. [Ugh].

 

This officer keeps talking nonsense & nudging his eyes around

            The apartment. Looking for—drugs, alcohol

 

Alchemy. My sister waits for him to leave & then begins to rant.

            Ramble about // her childhood // & how she used to be

 

[Before house arrest]. The confines of these plastered walls

            & Her monitored route to work // where

 

Every corner has a cop [coddling a liquor store]. Protecting their

            Notion of freedom. // My neighborhood eats fear.

 

 
                       

Mothers are getting // handcuffed & harassed. Homes are being

            Crushed [like cigarette butts]. Everyone I know

 

Hates the racist police & wants a revolution. // But we seldom

            Aim the gun... Have you heard // how the bullets

 

Sing their anthem // throughout the body?? // It sounds like

            God shutting the door— Bang. Bang.

 

 
                       

When it’s dinnertime in heaven [& your officer’s knocking]

            Ignore him sister— let the door bruise.

 

[Let the bears devour our enemies]. We have no obligation

            To open // ourselves // for those who do us harm.

Revolutionary Letter #26

‘DOES THE END
JUSTIFY THE MEANS?’ this is
process, there is no end, there are only
means, each one
had better justify itself.
To whom?

The Longest Month

I tell myself I want to be a political thinker, as I fill a bowl with dried stems, not moving from my bed.

It is the longest month of the year: late February.

I made a tunnel into my bed, to a story about how we were born inside a transparent sphere.

Slowly this sphere filled with stuff.

Then the stuff circulates.

I’ve learned how it is useless to write about failure, better just to enact the trying part, over and over.

Better to seek revenge with nails out, lumpy with stick-on pearls.

But here I am. All unable.

Failure: a porous feeling—secret minerals moving in and out of the invisible surfaces.

Failure: when you drop something and your body plummets with it.

I am looking–

To understand the things that happened, cut into it, and struggle with it, without laying blame which outlived its usefulness.

To set usefulness aside, then to pick it up with a different light on my face.

To be saturated in an unforgiving sunlight.

Tender was the saturation.

I tell myself to be a political thinker and wring the water from my chest.

I unscrew my body from its cringing why.

I spread out on the deck of my bed.

The acidic butter of thinking, we spread.

Yum, the butter.

To be a strong butter.

To be your alien thought, a scum on the ocean, that makes it right.

Thus greasy I look to you, I must stop looking to you.

Pick the body off the floor, back to the deck where the salt has settled in piles.

Go from the big blockade to the small blockade and back again.

What are the things that get in the way of care?

Why have you come back here, only to go away again?

Are some of the reasons hurtful but necessary?

Where Do You Enter

Where do you enter
A poem

At the same place
I enter you
with balance
and trust
and a jazzy sense
of adventure

Painting outside
the lines
wearing clothes cut
against the bias
with spices
among the flowers

A poem unfolds
like a baby bat
testing her wings
or a kitten taking
her first steps
or a good dog
moving arthritic limbs
toward the door

There is sadness
as well as loss
in the promise
of love

We begin a poem
with longing
and end with
responsibility

And laugh
all through the storms
that are bound
to come

We have umbrellas
We have boots
We have each
other