We’ve been isolated from the girls
to learn our bodies. Our desks harder
than our hairless asses. They shudder
beneath us when Mr. Griffey fingers
the 16mm reel. He mumbles directions
to himself, orders Danny S. to pull
down the white screen. We swell
into concentration as grainy scenes
flicker past our heads. The projector’s
clatter surrounds us like criminals:
narrated cross-section of the testicles,
the animated penis a cruel reminder
of our fathers. Strange men we’ve seen
through cracked doors. Their nude
bodies a revelation, a portrait of manhood
larger than anything we could imagine.
Me & Z walking the block when a cop shoots
his spotlight in our eyes when 2 more police roll
up with guns & fear & get on the fuckin ground
I do but Z moves too slow & the sidewalk don’t budge
when they drive his face into it a cop fumbles
his cuffs lowers his gun says wait that’s not the guy
sorry amigo & they flee.
Elegy for Winter
All night the plows pummeled the streets
with salt and sidewalks disappeared
under snow. Folding chairs & milk crates
mark the exhumation sites of unburied
cars. Each block is a struggle. Bungalows
eclipsed by huddled three-flats. Trendy
lofts rise from hyperbolic potholes
large enough to swallow the entire city.
We will forget all this by spring
when the snow has returned to the sky
and the streets are bound with nothing
but tar. Now the gray
ice hangs like murder from the trees.
This looming we nearly mistake for beauty.
than a war amputee.
His limb not as fleshy ruin
but as fresh bouquet
of soft tissue, blasted with love
through desert air.
than a deserted semi-trailer
loaded with dead Mexicans.
How their mouths fall
open like little brown orchids
thirsty for a breath
of hot air.
than a Chi-town cop
who pummels a bartender
one-third his size.
See his fists not as mallets
but as opportunity, knocking
her body again, again.
than a white politician
who plays the erase card
when a black man speaks.
Like the weather,
gives us something
to look forward to.
than a poet who resists
on paper. Admire his nerve
to condemn from a safe
distance, where he can
keep his shoes
and his conscience
Poems from My Kill Adore Him, University of Notre Dame Press, 2009, Copyright by Paul Martinez Pompa.