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Carlos Andrés Gómez


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His palms are sweating
more than they did
in the holding cell before

sentencing on another endless
summer night on Rikers Island
& he's sixteen going on

Life. His name in Spanish
means devil, a proud
pentagram on his left

shoulder in faded prison
ink. Everything from
his scarred body is a grief-

riddled Spanglish of, Puto,
don't fuck with me.
We are
a clumsy circle of arms &

knotted throats, youth
suspended. Clawing at each
other as if our ribs were

minute & second hands
we could hold in place.
You know I still hate

this writing shit, right?
He chuckles, a smile so
infectious that I half

expect him to break
into stand-up, No, but
for real—I love y'all.

His eyes are delicate
as crystal, painted to
the floor, & I’m seeing

myself as a sophomore
standing in his shoes.
I remember the scuffle

at the all-ages dance
night & the fight on
the blacktop between

Classical & Central.
How easily I could
have become the monster

I have wrestled my entire
life. The way a gun fits
so perfectly in my palm,

the clip instinctive in
its groove & click.
I visit kids locked up

for decades to face
myself. To remind
the lost parts of me,

still struggling to
survive, that even
the devil in us is just

a shaking kid
trying to say what
he feels: clinging

to a mob of strangers
like the last family he'll
never get to hold, crying


After the Cab Driver asks me—How you like Black pussy?

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And she’s on the other side
of the car, a wasteland between
us of worn steel, glass, and blood-
shot eyes that were, at first,

offered me and are now trained
on my right hand’s instinctive
clutch, having retracted into
a fist. His glare, which raked

over her silhouette when we first
got in, followed by an admiring
nod my way, as if to say: You won.
You got what we’re owed.
The car

lurches past my slackened knuckles
grazing the door. The sidewalk
emptied of anyone but us: He gave us
a free ride?
She asks, bewildered—

How kind.


after Caravaggio

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And, we’ve arrived: here, at the fulcrum,
As your appetite consumes and
Consumes any figure readied with light.

Enough will never sate the incurably ravenous.
This skin of mine, still wet with his mouth’s
Indigo calligraphy, knows that gaze beyond yours.

So go ahead, take of this mortal house.
Just take, and take. Strip these flimsy threads
From my frame like flesh from bone.

In Trieste, we chose not to make our escape,
The wine tasting of sour rust and lavender as we
Watched the brisk dusk approximate its blush.

I knew then that this, too, was not
Nor could ever be, ours. I knew it.
My body: a plaything for the ever praised

And eternally damned, for graying men
Who consume lovers without the chance of
Blessing another’s worn body like bread.

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