Poetry by Carlos Andrés Gómez

Read More: A brief interview with Carlos Andrés Gómez  

Cool

Smooth chisel of his calf against mine,
the L.A. dusk betraying our slow-creeping city
bus, he mentions his homeboy in the Valley,
those he just left in West Hollywood, at church:
the homeboys who have sleepovers on Thursdays—

Yo, you wanna be homeboys?
Lemme getcha math.

And before I respond, a phone appears
from his hip, face narrowed into focus
like he is readying his mouth to blow
glass. He moistens his lips, steadies
the slight tremor rattling his lower jaw
and then it happens: he unlocks.

I no longer notice the neck tattoos
cross-stitched across his bulging
arteries, biceps the size of small
sandbags, the Kobe high school
throwback that left me in awe
when he got on—only his hazel
eyes, now delicate as orchids.

We cool? He prods. You cool…right?

Yeah. And I’m not sure how to answer
and not answer the same question.
How to carve the top layer
of cool without the hot breath,
tune this frequency to the right
key of skin being slapped, how
to hold a damp palm, without hinting
back-to-chest, sweat-laced in embrace,
our skin is touching

and I’m trying
to map out the rules of cool, his bright
teeth barely holding back a clutter of words
I am trying to outrun, right hip spilling
sideways into my seat. And everyone
on this bus is pretending to be reading
by this point, waiting to see what I will say.

I want to say I have a girlfriend
waiting, that I have no friends
here. I want say this is the first
compliment this city has offered
me I want to say I get so lonely
here I might fuck anyone tonight.

It is my stop. Give a nod and turn.
He is waiting for my answer. I do not know
which one of us is trying to escape.

untitled

Before the Last Shot

What was I doing at fifteen?
Facedown on the pavement,
nostrils tinged with bullet-smoke,
the brick-dust falling around
us like fresh snow or white
chalk, his lanky silhouette stalking […]


Subscribers can read the full version by logging in.
Not a subscriber? Sequestrum is a pay-what-you-can journal:
Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
Access this and all our bi-weekly publications (and submit for free).

Subscribe Today



untitled

Black Hair

I made a vow
to join clustered
strands with these
fingers, careful
as they are clumsy,
submerged in this
delicate calculus.
I learn about
love doing this,
preparing for some-
one who might
help me understand
all of this better.
I keep starting
over, as though
concentration
is where I took
my misstep, as though
I am not three decades
behind in my practice.
As though it is just
a pattern I’m trying
to find (too late).
I’m too late, I think,
or maybe it’s something else: Papi’s hands
never knew how to fix […]


Subscribers can read the full version by logging in.
Not a subscriber? Sequestrum is a pay-what-you-can journal:
Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
Access this and all our bi-weekly publications (and submit for free).

Subscribe Today



untitled

Murambi (Rwanda, 2008)

There is no smell of death here. Even the lime
has faded from what it was meant to preserve.
Atop this hill, everything feels small and
possible. I convince myself school is out,
each classroom merely waiting. A holiday perhaps.
The grass, a twisted maze, yields sound
but no music. The battered doors, some still
stained a faint copper, were once tinged with
dark burgundy. When the breeze troubles
their rusty hinges, a pinched song overtakes
the concrete skeleton that remains, rises up […]


Subscribers can read the full version by logging in.
Not a subscriber? Sequestrum is a pay-what-you-can journal:
Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
Access this and all our bi-weekly publications (and submit for free).

Subscribe Today



___________________________________

Carlos Andrés Gómez is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Winner of the 2015 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared in the North American Review, Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, Muzzle, CHORUS: A Literary Mixtape (MTV Books, 2012), and elsewhere. For more, please visit www.CarlosLive.com.

“Cool,” “Before the Last Shot,” “Black Hair,” and “Murambi (Rwanda, 2008)” originally appeared in Radius, Solstice Literary Magazine, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Philadelphia Stories, respectively, and won first prize in the 2018 Editor’s Reprint Award (poetry).

Read More: A brief interview with Carlos Andrés Gómez