November 2, 2023

i want to write a poem in the shape of home

some contour of cobblestone bougainvillea, feral cats sniffing
turnip carts under hubris-quashing peaks, a torrent of flung

spice, bread racks on a bicyclist’s head    but i was born amid
bong brats & mesh fiefdoms, yards pruned by labor rezoned

from town pools onto shadow streets named for murdered tribes
i’ve tried to love you, long island, but your beauty & bigotry

are paired condiments at the diner booth—nautical plenitude
& pine barren confederacy, soft-duned kisses & orwellian

elephants made of fear & fenceposts, your rabbit dusk & robert
moses redlined sea parted by parkways    i know many who sail

& bask in your seafaring past, but no salt tattoos my skin
your face bears the still-wet mark of a devil’s deal—the enslaved

the denuded, a million moral compasses laid at liberty’s feet
every block valued at x divided by melanin over y because we can

how does one strip down to the sun-sweet key of nostrils caked
with wind & freedom when home is a bootstrap riptide?

no, the best thing about you is how easy you are to leave—
boeing or bus, bridge or rail—to flee your glossy hatreds

strung like blades between cul de sac guillotines, your white
hoods & pickup truck tyranny    paumanok’s fishtails hiss

over scorched grass & algonquian echoes like a serpent’s tongue
& soon, i will leave all your sad atlantic blue behind

till then, love & horror split me like a knife—
a witness waiting for another life

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