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I Will Walk Away


I’ll remember that people

are not always safe places.

They’re people, like me.

Sometimes they are traps

that turn time


that burn my tongue

& lodge in my throat.

People can both hold you

& push you away, suffocate with tension & confusion.

Allegiance waxes

& flows like tides

you can neither predict nor chart.

Sisters swear they’ll keep secrets they later blurt out.

Mothers, don’t choose their words with much care:

they slap you with them, unable

to understand your longing

to be something other

than what you are, to be somewhere

other than here, that everything

feels transitory, out of time.

Fathers fall into moods

so dark & long & private

that they lose their train of thought

& sit blinking,

walled in thick dissatisfaction.

Theatrics steal your sleep,

until it all feels like a nightmare,

& you believe

dawn will transform everything.

The Egyptians said the sun burnt up

each evening & rekindled in the morning

—a fresh torch for the day.

You stay up all night to prove it,

star-gazing, star-thinking,

star-dreaming. Under all those stars,

you realize the truth

you can barely face

when it is daylight:

You need to break free.

When you are loved, you are less spectral,

less insubstantial, less invisible.

Your body is a tangible thing,

shoulders & arms & hands.

But in unhealthy love: people

engulf you in a drone of

voices buzzing with bad ideas,

until there’s nothing

but chaos in your veins.

Walk away.

Whether you stay or not,

you can love them.

Whether you stay or not,

—people are born, people die,

people eat, drink, sing in the shower,

clip their nails, wipe their asses,

do the everyday things people do

as they live. Petunias nod yes, yes

to the wind. Brown-winged butterflies

mingle, & bees scribble

over the pistils of hibiscus flowers.

The sun shoots black spots

into your eyes when you forget to blink,

while the wind moans

like a low fire.


Jose Armando, I was of the water,

current and undertow,

murky and turbulent:

a channel, an eddy, old, old,

like the universe,

rhythm low and telling,

waves breaking,

sucking in,

rumbling out.

Rooms flooded

and flowed with my tide,

walls stretched and buckled,

and you, my Captain,

you felt the upsurge of it all

as you cleaved my currents.

Do you know that Hope

can be as sharp

as a piranha’s teeth?

José Armando, I was in the water:

legs and shoulders burning

through the waves.

I sloshed with the current,

the world in my throat,

rose up like a lungfish,

flayed by sea and wind.

I hoped to emerge,




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