ELEGY FOR CLAUDIA PATRICIA GOMEZ GONZALEZ*
every poem i write is about the same grief: how ordinary it is to want
the American dream. i don’t know what Gomez has been through but i can
taste it. today, i made posho because i wanted to avoid the actual
conditions of my life. along the borders of my bed, i plant a field of
green cards, sunflowers thirsting into golden lilies on a white satin
field. this is how the beginning sounds: outside my mother’s bedroom, the
body of a young woman lay bleeding on the ground, shot in the head.
this country calls her body a haram & it will kill to prove it. i look
toward the Rio Grande: a fire & an awful mouth. the soil here is soaked
with blood — the authorities can only twist the truth but they can’t
remove the wreckage from their faces.
what does it mean to miscarry a moon into a wrong country’s night?
how much ruin can we drag through time?
how much ash should fill a bed before it becomes a stain on our
last night, i saw Gomez’s Mamita: an old anxious sea glazed in fine red
dust. what she holds grows weight — the unbearable atmosphere of
memory. i am touched — i am. & i wish to be untethered from this wave
of moonlight riding through the dusked rails of her arms.
lately, i settle for a cup of kindness instead of a country.
Autobiography of A Man Who Begs
Nightly for His Mother’s Breast
like all mothers, mine no longer speaks
the night begins somewhere along the blade-
edge of a body in 7th grade my little sister asks
if i’ve ever seen a black bird what’s closer to God:
confession or thirst some days, every hurt feels like
the first listen: inside my mother’s body is an ant-hill
on fire what part of you walks away & prays to be
a photograph eaten at 2.a.m the substance of the
world is water, clear even when it’s dying in our house,
there have been no flowers for weeks, yet a red petal
floats in my mouth like a fist of sugar i suck until
my teeth riot with rot survival: between my mother & i,
a river where we open our wounds & make a garden out
of it. all our limbs named oars everything edible begins
as a blood-soft loam & it’s best to consider silence as a sea
revising its shorelines once i renamed my father by tenderizing
my tongue & rubbing in salt today, my mother tears off her
clothing like scabs & walks naked in public
Narrow Memories Enter My Room
there is something divine about happiness crowned with holes. what does it mean to flinch at a word like passing? today i return to all the domestic names for sadness. today i boat my hands into a house full of butterflies. in this dream joy is a form of orgasm — & i choose between water & fire. water. i mean to say there is a name for what grows inside of me when i open my mouth at odd hours. i usually mean i am bleeding. the word fire is better as a verb than as noun. i have seen my father beaming after a lifetime of loss. it’s July & there is no balance here. what does it even mean to write a joyful poem? it means all joy in life comes from giving to others. and all misery from only thinking of yourself. i put life up to my lips & drink — a flock of sparrows with darkness lurking around my ears. what can i say about myself? i have been alone but yearning for others.
* Gomez Gonzalez’s shooting on May 23, 2018 drew international attention after a bystander posted a Facebook video of the aftermath, showing her lying on the ground, bleeding. This poem urges the authorities to respect the rights of its citizen, especially their right to live, regardless of their immigration status.
Ojo Taiye is a young Nigerian who uses poetry as a tool to hide his frustration with the society. Apart from writing, he loves drinking coffee a lot. You can find him on twitter @ojo_poems.