motive

friend, how did you wind up 
at the end of a barrel?

I was a young man 
out on a run
I was telling stories
in my mother tongue

at work
oh, at school 

what happened 
to make you

the form of betrayal
we are shot through 


friend, what were you thinking 
when you pressed the trigger?

look at all they get away with

my disease of despair

red ants on fire 
boomerang
roosters coming home

friend, what makes you 
so easy to shoot?


Gloria remix

young man 
on the edge of the floor 
at studio 54
where the girls dance in sea foam
synthetic silks
circled by men in iridescent suits 

no need to feel down
a baby in the round
the building of a tower
tenants swimming in cold water

the voices in his head
recall a time of expensive hamburgers
opulence and AIDS 
just before
teenage boys
dissolve into the ink
of The Daily News

young man
cemented in 1982
gloria
is just a girl and
she says
everybody wants you
hangin' on a line


Ashli Babbitt

Ashli Babbitt climbs
a suicide
extinguisher

frienemy
ripples
the surface of a year

Ashli Babbitt drives
shouldering
stories in her sack

freedom
persecution
the border is a mess

Ashli Babbitt dives
backwards
reality is a lie

Dark to light! 
God knows, god sees 
and he is incoming! 



Your First Lady

my heart goes out
looking
found a passion
salacious gossip
honor and accusations
against me
the promise of our future
make no mistake
you are the backbone 
let us remember
you are the people 
who turn to violence
make the United States of America 
what it is




I know how you feel

I know your pain
I know your hurt

It was stolen from us

You have to go home now
We have to have peace
We have to have law

order

time

a thing happened
have to have
anybody hurt

see what happens
they could take it away

so bad 

the way others
are so bad and so evil

I know your hurt
I know your pain
I know your hurt

go home

great people





teenage voter

I find him, tall and lanky, 
unloading a truck with his Dad
who looks at me sideways
I am hoping to talk to —

He's on our books as a Democrat.
But the father is not.

To talk to the teenage voter
I have to get around this man

I make myself small
Just following up to make sure—

the son comes closer 
I give him the rap

turns out he's already dropped
his ballot off

Oh that's great!

I run down
our list of candidates and ask: 

Can we count on your support?

No. 

I can see his Dad's eyes on him
he can feel them on his back.
I can't tell— is he proud 
or ashamed?




Kamela

The Libertarian asks
what I think of Kamela

and what she said about Biden
in the debate

I do not believe you 
are a racist, she said

before taking him apart
for cozying up with segregationists

I say 
I am behind the criticism of his policies—
 
how can I support Biden,
he interjects, if he's a racist?

I've been down this road before
with the guy energized by the discovery

that people on the left vote
for racists

as if that makes me and him
the same

there are moments in history, she said 
when states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people

I forget to pivot
to the story of the racism we share

I return to local candidates 
running on conviction and compassion 

but he prefers to crow over
my hypocrisy 

for a few minutes, sitting with him on his porch,
I am lost

he has an energy
a low menace, its own thrill

I take him in, bearded 
motorcycle lover with a good belly

living in a comfortable suburban home
in an all-but-gated community

an answer to a question that was lingering
in my head

Kamela
and that little girl was me.