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Notes on Loving a Homeless Man (II)

II

I have held in rains longer than I can remember,
unwilling, maybe, to water a field that had
so consistently failed
to bear fruit, you can only till gravel
as if it were soil so long before
you have to accept that a single stem
rosed from concrete can never bloom the same
faith as it would, climbing from a bush to
greet the sun in a garden.

I never knew why, or sometimes what, I was holding back, but whatever it was felt like all I had left, so I protected it like it was my only child.

until you smiled and reminded me that I am allowed to feel something other than lost.

I haven’t known how to get home since they told me
I could no longer sleep under the ashes of my last one,
and
until your face dimpled
I had no clue where to break ground
building a new one —
until your face dimpled,
I was not sure that I could plant
or grow, but now all I do
is water the ground below you
and pray you always petal.

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Notes on Loving A Homeless Man (I)

You will not always know why it is that I feel compelled to tip-jar my tithing into hats and buckets and licked-clean soup cans, the sharp edge of which has clearly kissed a hungry mouth intent on reducing food waste, and why I feel torn open by the mouths that have the scars consummated with that union. There is just something in his outstretched hands, and the gravel that echoes through his praise that reminds me of the nights I have spent turning anything I could find as holy as I could hold it and making it into a makeshift pew and altar.

I will not know how to ignore the ringing in my ears, the sound that the look of a man waiting on commuters to leave his living room makes — the unsure look of someone who can’t quite tell where it is that he feels the least alone, nor a clue as to how to seek it out; a man to whom feelings of being welcomed, and wanted, and anything more than unworthy might as well be the things that come with lottery winnings.

I would buy a lottery ticket, too.

I have bought lottery tickets, too. They always seemed to have odds-to-win as good as anything else I have tried.

There is something about looking into empty eyes, and empty hands held up to random humans as though beatifying them will turn them into saints… something about someone asking for whatever it is that they hope might keep them warm that night that will always buckle my knees.

I do not know how to stand over these people.

I will want to prostrate, or at least kneel so our tears start out the same distance from heaven and the same distance from earth when we free each other, I will cry with them. I will cry for them. I will want to hold them like a brother I thought had died years ago, overjoyed to see him again and broken that I can’t house him, if I can barely house myself.

I will look at you and not know where you are asking me to lead you. These numbers on this house don’t add up to a number I know how to count towards.

I will sleep on the back porch, so the cops do not think I am a tresspasser. I will thank you for the blanket. I will not know why you are angry — why you are crying — why you invited me here.

I love you, but I cannot stay here. I have burned down every house I have ever slept in.

Quote Iconi am a pen
with a bullet in the
chamber

i am a black boy
burning a book
about history

i am a black boy
painting new colors
on a flag —

it didn’t match
my shoes, red’s and whites
only remind me bloods and angels
I don’t know how to pray to, and I
don’t believe in that
purple predecessor.

i am a spectrum of sunkissed
skintones, calloused and weathered
and stress-tested

those of us who survive the firing squad
are fileted, and
skinned, and worn

they say, the first man who wears
a nigger’s skin, inherits his
rhythm. and the blues he spent so long
running away from will lay
by his headstone.

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Bridge to Somewhere (freewrite 7.13.14)

even with hands built
to carry peace
over troubled waters,
i am only steel and
concrete; only submerged pillars
breaching, desperately reaching
toward heaven so
painfully accustomed to coming up short —
misdirected suspended roads,
i am a bridge to nowhere unless
I have your shores
to land on and name
destiny.

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freewrite 7.11.14

I love you, but maybe
it’s that I love the way
you love me,
baby, maybe
the way you reached up for me like
I was suspended in the sky, held the back
of my neck like I was made of clouds, and
kissed my face like your mouth
was a mut, mixed from mustard seeds and
the kinds of mountains people climb
to separate themselves from mere mortals.
you took a chisel to your chest,
split your sternum,
spread yourself open, and
told me I wouldn’t have to
use cardboard signs and street corners
to mine blessings
anymore, the way you
looked in my eyes
birthed me whole
from homeless.

Quote Iconi am a pen,
with a bullet in the chamber
i am a black boy
reading a book
about God.

i am a black boy
writing a book
about all of the times I’ve failed.

i am a sinner
standing on the corner
looking to the sky,
trying to carve a dream
from the clouds

i would give any of my things
to have anything
worth crying that i
cannot hold.
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Fight or Flight freewrite 7.1.14

the song
the guillotine sings sounds like
a wife returning to her husband
after a military tour. as she collides
with the hard hug of a chopping block,
she will give you
goosebumps big enough that
they seem they might sprout plume
and down — and you are only given
a choice to spread your wings, or
spread the bed:
accept today will be the first day
you have lived not followed by a tomorrow,
or that you’d rather stop spending
so much of your time looking
towards earth.