You never really broke-up
with your high school girlfriend,
the hot nationalist—
her legs smooth as the flag,
her neck like the inside of a coconut.
Freshman year, you pressed sorostitutes
against the stained wallpaper of the frat,
& they all lugged beneath their skirts
the same grief vending-machine.
It was Pittsburgh, a kingdom
where sunlight is taxed, & you were still
a Poli-Sci major. You wore T-shirts
with portraits of patriots on the front
& told girls how Ché Guevara, baby,
was buried beneath the Fountain of Youth,
how the golden bullets planted in his beard
were buds waiting for Spring! Spring! Spring!
The Puerto Rican girl wanted
to marry you. The black girl
wanted to kill the Puerto Rican girl.
The white punk girl stomped on your heart
like a wah-wah pedal. You were always drunk,
stumbling up some stairwell into anybody’s room.
The Puerto Rican girl said, You’re so militant
the black girl said, You’re so white
the white girl said, You’re so white
& there was no arguing in Pittsburgh:
the last two letters of the city’s name
slumped down your throat
like an anchor. What were you doing there,
getting stoned under the brazen street signs,
pretending not to understand
the Stops & Yields? Is there a name
for the kind of heat you lacked inside,
your smoke digging
its phantom oar into the night?
When Ché Guevara’s body was found
in the mountains of Bolivia,
you became an English major—
strutting into classrooms
with Lorca’s Romancero in your pocket,
studying the different types of darkness
that lay under the different types of comforters,
your mind weaving its way out
of the hot nationalist’s plaid skirt’s maze.
Years later, all the English girls you loved
are calling & e-mailing
because they’re going out of town
with their new boyfriends
& need you to feed their cats.
Remember me? said the literary theorist
who called orgasms little deaths,
as if you could forget the way she yelled
You’re killing me! You’re killing me!
& campus police banging on the door
& questioning you when you answered
wrapped in her sheets. Then,
there was the girl from poetry workshop
whose room was full of stuffed animals
named after contemporary poets:
a lion named Komunyakaa, a shark named
Jorie Graham; the leopard, Denise Duhamel,
cuddling with the panda, Nick Carbó.
There was the visiting poet—
how you lay together
like syllables in an iamb,
how she was the stressed one,
& how when the girl from workshop
found out, you had to return
the stuffed owl named Harold Bloom
she gave you for your birthday.
Of course, there was the wannabe-novelist
who left you for the almost-doctor
because poets have small & selfish penises,
especially you. There was the Lit Crit chick
who said your poems
were too self-conscious, who argued
that stubbornism was a word,
& so you left her, though she claims
she left you first. Feed Blossom
half a can of wet food, her e-mail said,
& enough dry food to last through the night.
The key is in a ziplock beneath the hyacinths.
You replied that you were gone, not that it mattered
because you have no idea what hyacinths are.
After you dropped the visiting poet off
at the airport, she called from the plane
& requested you write a poem
entitled “Use Bottom Cushion
for Flotation,” & you wrote, There is
a small man drowning inside me—
the supple syllable of water so eternal
I’m afraid of mistaking it for silence.
And you meant it too. Because
they did not love you;
because you’re still licking your fingers
that have long lost the taste of their skin.
After all those little deaths, how much life
still remains? There are eight
different types of darkness
beneath any given comforter.
When you come home, the machine
winks with a message:
O Cultural Strumpet! they all say
at the same time. Feed my cat!
Kevin A. González