Raina J. León
Banned portrait in the MAGA era: Afro-Latina texts her brother
why do I keep doing this to myself?
so many wypipo, all around me,
and the funk and soul music plays on
one black man singing to a shaded white crowd:
one man’s tapping foot, two women dancing
all elbows and jut.
i can’t help counting.
i’m the only one who echoes the songs.
When thrumming joy electrifies the man,
I am unprepared for his double take,
his call of my name, recognition of my book,
his seeing me.
I feel my own entangled
sinews loosen, the sleeted stoicism of neck
crick dissipate like the only melting glacier
I have ever wanted.
Somewhere there is a camera
watching ice fall,
complicit in the collapse.
In Philadelphia, I imagine melting, too,
earthen body become ice mocking,
sweat glistening the skin to diamonds.
There he is reading my texts and laughing.
He gives me his password for Game of Thrones.
Is winter still coming or is it here? I forget.
Blood current coursing around floe sugars:
This must be my brother’s claret now,
now that the diabetic devil has returned,
cloaked in ragged white and dancing drunk, I was always here
calling your name.
It’s the day of Pride.
Stonewall push back against police.
Rainbows forget brown and black as colors.
White isn’t there either …
Eleggua, spirit of crossroads,
the santeros call San Antonio,
saint of lost things. He carries
an old man’s stick, tumbling
like a boy, dressed in ragged
clothes, red and black.
Striped paths lead to a rail-warm iron place.
Sunken places twist waters from many bodies.
What have I lost now?
I have a puckering bitterness.
I left all the handkerchiefs I bought
to sop my weeping, back
in my ruin-rising house.
To come here, I pierced my skin with chains
with dragging spikes,
splayed in their frigid trail like a comet,
burning in ice,
facing the consuming void.
somewhere there is a black child
holding their hand to a candle
to see a red tide course
around bone spindles,
forgetting the burn
to witness a thin film
peeled away to true.