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by Emanuel Xavier |

WARS and RUMORS OF WARS

 “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars;
see that ye not be troubles;
all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet”
-Matthew 24:6

1.
I escape the horrors of war 
with a towel and a room
Offering myself 
to Palestinian and Jewish boys
as a ‘piece’ to the Middle East
when I should be concerned with the untimely deaths
of dark-skinned babies
and the brutal murders 
of light-skinned fathers

2.
I’ve been more consumed with how to make
the cover of local fag rags
than how to open the minds 
of angry little boys
trotting loaded guns
Helpless in finding words 
that will stop the blood
from spilling like secrets into soil
where great prophets are buried

3.
I return to the same spaces 
where I once dealt drugs
a celebrated author gliding past velvet ropes
while my club kid friends are mostly dead
from an overdose or HIV-related symptoms
Marilyn wears the crown of thorns
while 4 out of the 5 weapons used to kill Columbine students
had been sold by the same police force 
that came to their rescue
Not all terrorists have features too foreign
to be recognized in the mirror
Our mistakes are our responsibility

4.
The skyline outside my window
is the only thing that has changed
Men still rape women 
and blame them for their weaknesses
Children are still molested
by the perversion of Catholic guilt
My ex-boyfriend still takes comfort 
in the other white powder-
the one used solely to destroy himself 
and those around him
Not the one used to ignite and create carnage
or mailbox fear

5.
It is said when skin is cut,
and then pressed together, it seals
but what about acid-burned skulls
engraved with the word ‘faggot’,
a foot bone with flesh 
and other crushed body parts

6.
It was a gay priest that read last rites
to firefighters as towers collapsed
It was a gay pilot that crashed a plane
into Pennsylvania fields
It was a gay couple that was responsible
for the tribute of light 
in memory of the fallen
Taliban leaders would bury them 
to their necks
and tumble walls to crush their heads
Catholic leaders simply condemn them 
as perverts
having offered nothing but sin
Queer blood is just rosaries scattered on tile

7.
Heroes do not always get heaven

8.
We all have wings . . . 
some of us just don’t know why


by Emanuel Xavier |

A SIMPLE POEM

 I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around

With lips that will never touch mine
read your poems out loud
so that the words are left engraved 
on the wall
make me feel your voice rush through me
like a breeze from Oyá

I want to hear about Puerto Rico
about sisters with names like La Bruja
about educating youth about AIDS
I want to hear about life 
in the Boogie Down Bronx
surviving on the Down Low
don't leave out stories about men
you have loved and still love

I want you to write poems that you 
will never read
press hard on the paper 
so that the ink runs deep
hold the pen tight 
so that you control the details
prove to me that I inspire you
reveal yourself between the lines
hear my praise 
with each flicker of the candle
Write a poem for me

Do not choose a fresh page 
from a brand new journal
use paper that has been crumbled and tossed
thrown out by a spineless father 
only to be recycled
Save a tree for future poets to write under

Rewrite me into someone more attractive
stronger than life has made me
make me tough and sexy, 
aggressive like a tiger
stain the pages with cum, 
lube, the arousal you find
at the sight of naked boys, draw me sketches
bring the words to life with images
make me a man with this poem

Read it in front of the audience
with hidden messages just for me
be real and tell me why
I am only worth a haiku

Your epics are meant for others
I already know,
use red ink to match the blood 
from these wounds
with brutal honesty
let me die with your last sentence

Then resurrect me with rhyme
read from your gut
let me hear the wisdom of mi abuelo 
in your voice
let me find my father in you
remind me of all the men 
that left me broken promises

In your eyes I want to see a poem
when you bring me to tears
with painful memories
buried beneath your thick skin

Between teeth gapped like divas,
I want to hear quotes from books
I never read

Make me believe you want to be a poet

Make my heart break,
tell me why you could never love me
with just a few words
leave me lost and insecure
feel the admiration of others
bask in their desire
forget that I am there

Pound your fists in the air with passion
go off about politics, poverty, 
machismo and hate
scream poems that don't give a fuck
about traditions, slamming or scores
save your whispers 
for those who make love to you

Write a poem for me 
that makes me want to puff a joint

A poem that loses control
unafraid to be vulnerable
for once just make me believe
it is all worth letting go
when the smoke clears
I will understand
the reason 
I am just another face 
in the crowd

I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around


by Emanuel Xavier |

IT RAINED THE DAY THEY BURIED TITO PUENTE

 It rained the day they buried Tito Puente
The eyes of drug dealers following me
as I walked through the streets
past shivering prostitutes
women of every sex
young boys full of piss
and lampposts like ghosts in the night
past Jimmy the hustler boy 
with the really big dick 
cracked out on the sidewalk
wrapped in a blanket donated by the trick
that also gave him genital herpes 
and Fruit Loops for breakfast
past the hospital where Tio Cesar 
got his intestines taken out
in exchange for a plastic bag 
where he now shits and pisses
the 40’s he consumed for 50 years
past 3 of the thugs 
who sexually assaulted those women 
at Central Park 
during the Puerto Rican Day parade 
lost in their machismo, 
marijuana and Mira mami’s
‘cause boricuas do it better


Tito’s rambunctious and unruly rhythms never touched them 
never inspired them to rise above the ghetto 
and, like La Bruja said, “Ghet Over It!”
his timbales never echoed 
in the salsa of their souls
though they had probably danced 
to his cha-cha-cha
they never listened to the message 
between the beats
urging them to follow their hearts

On a train back to Brooklyn
feeling dispossessed and dreamless
I look up to read one of those 
Poetry In Motion ads
sharing a car with somebody sleeping
realizing 
that inspiration is everywhere these days
& though the Mambo King’s body 
may be six-feet under
his laughter and legend will live forever

The next morning 
I heard the crow crowing, “Oye Como Va”
his song was the sunlight in my universe
& I could feel Tito’s smile 
shining down on me


by Emanuel Xavier |

THE DEATH OF ART

 “Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.”
-critic Harold Bloom, who first called slam poetry "the death of art.”

I am not a poet. I want to be rich and buy things for my family. 
Besides, I am sort of popular and can honestly say I’ve had a great sex life.

I am not a poet. Georgia O' Keefe paintings do absolutely nothing for me. I do not feel oppressed or depressed and no longer have anything to say about the President.

I am not a poet. I do not like being called an "activist" because it takes away from those that are out on the streets protesting and fighting for our rights.

I am not a poet. I eat poultry and fish and suck way too much dick to be considered a vegetarian.

I am not a poet. I would most likely give my ass up in prison before trying to save it with poetry . . . and I’d like it! Heck, I’d probably be inspired.

I am not a poet. I may value peace but I will not simply use a pen to unleash my anger. I would fuck somebody up if I had to.

I am not a poet. I may have been abused and had a difficult life but I don’t want pity. I believe laughter and love heals.

I am not a poet. I am not dying. I write a lot about AIDS and how it has affected my life but, despite the rumors, I am not positive. Believe it or not, weight loss amongst sexually active gay men could still be a choice.

I am not a poet. I do not get Kerouac or honestly care much for Bukowski.

I am not a poet. I don’t spend my weekends reading and writing. I like to go out and party. I like to have a few cocktails but I do not have a drinking problem regardless of what borough, city or state I may wake up in.

I am not a poet. I don’t need drugs to open up my imagination. I've been a dealer and had a really bad habit but that was long before I started writing. 

I am not a poet. I can seriously only tolerate about half an hour of spoken word before I start tuning out and thinking about my grocery list or what my cats are up to.

I am not a poet. I only do poetry events if I know there will be cute guys there and I always carry business cards. 

I am not a poet according to the scholars and academics and Harold Bloom. I only write to masturbate my mind. After all, fucking yourself is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.

I am not a poet. I am only trying to get attention and convince myself that poetry can save lives when my words simply and proudly contribute to “the death of art.”


by Emanuel Xavier |

WALKING WITH ANGELS

 for Lindsay

AIDS
knows the condom wrapped penetration 
of strangers and lovers, deep inside
only a tear away from risk

knows bare minimum t-cell level counts, 
replacing intoxicating cocktails
with jagged little pills

knows how to avoid a cure thanks to war
how to keep pharmaceutical corporations
and doctors in business

AIDS
knows the weight loss desired 
by supermodels,
knows the fearless meaning of a friends genuine kiss or hug
converts non-believers to religion 
and spirituality

comprehends loneliness
values the support of luminaries
smiles at the solidarity 
of single red ribbons

knows to dim the lights 
to elude detection
how to shame someone into hiding
from the rest of the world
to be grateful for the gift of clothing 
and shelter,
to remain silent, holding back the anger and frustration

AIDS
knows that time on earth 
is limited for all of us
that using lemons to make lemonade is better than drinking the Kool-Aid
but no matter how much you drink
you are always left dehydrated

knows working extensive hours
to pay hospital bills, 
the choice of survival
or taking pleasure in what is left of life

knows the solid white walls
you want to crash through 
and tear down
the thoughts of suicide 
in the back of your head

AIDS
knows the prosperous could be doing more with their wealth
and that everyone still thinks it is a deserving fate- for gays,
drug addicts, prostitutes, 
and the unfortunate children of such
born into a merciless world of posh handbags and designer jewelry

knows how to be used as another percentage to profit politicians
knows it doesn’t only affect humans 
but animals too, without bias
-providing fodder for art and something to be left behind

if there is a God
he has disregarded our prayers
left his angels behind to journey along with us
-none of us knowing exactly 
where we are headed