poems and poems-in-progress

Friday, November 9, 2018

Gun Show


1
The “mamaluke” lived above the no-slice pizza joint with his Mama.
He kept a flimsy life-
sized poster from the range
beside the register near the kitchen.
It bore an outline of some “cock- sucker” Arab of his imagining.
Concentric orbits and a hole
where the “towel-head’s” heart would have been.
That perforated sheet made Mama’s “little light” feel like a man.

2
One military buff I know never served.
He just loves his guns.
It’s hard when your dreams get shot
to shit.

3
My dream was to take a shot
at art. Sure there are holes,
but never where the heart is supposed to be.
Where the heart is supposed to be, a heart is.

4
When I was 20, the hottest Latino imaginable,
a gym-jacked, black-haired looker with dimples from Parkchester
invited me to “escort” him to “a function.”
He wanted to try a “college girl.” He had come to the right place.

Shimmering and sharp, we had not been long at the banquet
when an altercation ensued. Expletives rang out, gave way
to a sequence of shoves. Julio scooped up
his gym bag from beneath the buffet table where he’d stashed it.
Simmering with suspension and solemnity he unzipped his
duffel, glared at the object of his fury,
paused to look into my eyes a sorry but fuck-
the-world-I-want to-get-off/live-fast-die-young-
this-is-who-I-am fervor and withdrew
from its white terrycloth swaddle his undraped Glock.

5
A lot of men are drawn to shotguns and rifles and hand-
guns because they want bigger sex organs.
“Say hello to my little friend.”

6
I suspect my best girlfriend from the plaid years
was content with the dimensions of her sex organs.
After 1985, she never went anywhere without a fire-
arm, a princess
revolver, her off-
duty weapon. It had a Mother of Pearl handle.
It wasthe perfect heat
for a stylish bad-ass lady
cop to pack.

We could go anywhere drinking in Brooklyn night
with that baby nestled in its holster
right up against the metrics of her heart.

7
My husband used to worry when I went to teach in the projects.
I never worried. I belonged there.
I never packed a gat, but I packed a punch.
When push came to shove, I could hightail it like a rabbit.
There, in the chambers
and halls of that child-
masticating hell. I fell in love with
my charges. Two years later, one got shot
while sitting on his bed.

I read in The Daily News that
the bullet came through the wall out of nowhere
and killed him at 14 where he had lived and
breathed with his sister and Moms.

8
Once, in Detroit, a thug stuck the muzzle of a pistol
up against the temple of the man
who later became the father of
my children, then commanded him
to lie down face-down on the sidewalk and empty
his pockets. Years later he floated
the idea of procuring a rod.
“I don’t think so, Dear.
In that case, it would be me or the gat.”

9
Funny how fear of dying by the “gun of the hand,”
as the Amish call them, begets yearning
for a peace-keeping piece.

10
At my holiday party, a soft-speaking poet and I discussed fire-
arms. He spoke of remembering how
the men in his family, each black like him,
used to lay their weapons
down at the sides of their plates,
like flatware, at picnics.
“As long as the cops have them.”

11
“Protection,” Julio said.
“I wasn’t going to use it. I just wanted to scare him.”
Julio called again but our romance was over before it started.

12
When they were 10, 8 and 7 my three brothers used to drag
a dining room chair into the Master bedroom
in order retrieve the .38 on the top closet shelf.

My father kept the bullets elsewhere, but
the boys were one step ahead of him and knew
where to find the tiny cock-
shaped lead. They enjoyed loading and unloading
the six barrels clandestinely
when our parents were gone.

13
My father did not like having to wear
his handgun everywhere all the time.
(This may be what I liked most about him.)
It was an occupational hazard.
Sometimes after a night of drinking the paycheck,
he’d wave it around.
We are lucky none of us died of it
like those families we read about in the Daily News.

14
He had been a machine-gunner in Korea.
God knows how many ...

I suspect that’s what ruined him.