He was a glass of spume salty as the Caribbean in June and I worshipped him as the Summer Summer knows burning’s the only way out so several times a year we took turns being Summer We stoked each other lithe as wildfires On some nights I was clever enough to spread across his back On other nights I was clever on all fours pretending to be an altar
There is a science to going up in flames Or
an art Or denial Like the morning after I gave him love and with it he built fire We watched it neon singe-browed pretending to be gods slip ping tiny blades back and forth with our tongues
Whenever I start to miss him I remember the mess The mess we left behind The mess after a roman candle r o m a n c a n d l e s A body ’s rejection of its own has always terrified me We are people of the body Christlike in only that way People of blood and salt and bile The salt left after the hogs have trampled the lilies and the pollen stains everything left the center of a peach after the pit is coerced from its dignity the shaping of beef into discs and the Sazón and blood underneath your nails once the discs are seasoned
things that sound alike are not alike a body arched no not arched slungover vetiver A body not slung or slug but more accurately split no not exactly slit into or splat out of but but t e r f l o w n Allow me to address the devil There is so much I must tell you not want must I don’t like pretty Pretty is decorative Doesn’t ask enough of an audience Less of a reader Such unnecessary ornamentation is not a challenge and I am unwilling to give into that
Pretty is a hand inside of me
of why i’ll end up red as wanting steady as I stuck my fingers between
the fingers of his crisp and he taught me this is what rape feels like.
Roberto F. Santiago
Roberto F. Santiago received his MFA from Rutgers University, and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. He is a 2016 Community of Writers Fellow, 2015 Sarah Lawrence Fellow, 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow, the recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Poetry Prize, and his debut book of poetry was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry. Roberto writes and produces his own music, and likens himself to Tennessee Williams in a poodle skirt, Gloria Anzaldúa in culottes, and/or James Merrill in short-shorts. Currently, he works as an educator in San Francisco and lives in Oakland with a fiction writer and 15 year old cat that edits most of his poetry…whether he asks her to, or not.