Poetry: Loma (Christopher Soto)

MIDDLE CLASS FIST FIGHT





I hate these poems & you’ve been dead for so long now. I barely have any memories left of you.



                                                                                                             The road trip // to Arcadia—

Where [thirty yards from the horses] we slept // amongst



                           Wild acid flowers.               [The sweet earth everywhere].

                                                                                                             Air with its fake gold dust.



I want to say that the dead // have purpose for the living—

                                                                       But I can barely remember your voice // your face.








THOSE SUNDAYS



My father worked too many hours. He’d come home with his

cracked hands and bad attitude. & I’d rather talk about Rory now.

[His blond locks] How the sun would comb crowns into his hair.

Rory was my first love, before he killed himself.


                                          My father hated faggots. The way my cock looked beneath a

                                          dress. The mismatch of his chafed knuckles and my cut cuticles.

                                          A scrambling of hands. I was always running. Mascara. Massacre.

                                          My momma would wash the red paint off my nails and face.

                                          She’d hold me like the frame of a house. No, the bars of a prison

                                          cell.



“Mijo, your father is coming home soon. Hide your heels.” I’m

the donkey clanking down the hall. Click, Clack, Click, Clack.

Over Momma’s body [he’d grab me] & throw me against the

wall. My bruises dark as holes, he punched into the wall. His

hand was the hammer. I was the nail. & I want to talk about Rory

now.



                                          That night, after my father smashed the television glass with his

                                          baseball bat, I met Rory at the park. We made a pipe out of a

                                          plastic bottle and aluminum foil. [He watched me undress & run

                                          through ticking sprinklers]. I fell beside him then; beneath the

                                          maple tree. & he saw my goose bumps from the cold. & he felt

                                          my bruises, as they became a part of him.



Rory, I want to say that death is what you’ve always wanted. But

that can’t be the Truth. [This time] we can blame it on me. I’ll be

the packing mule, carry all the burden. & you, you can be a child

again; fold your church hands like dirty laundry [crease them tight].

Nobody has to know about us, not my father nor yours-

                           No, not even God.








HOME [CHAOS THEORY]



Home isn’t merely a physical space

But also a philosophical one—



                           Often defined by a feeling of security.



Here, it’s possible to [own] property

& feel completely homeless.



Here, it’s possible to be sleeping on a park bench

& know you are home.






                                                                       The last time I ran away

                                                                                                                    [To San Francisco]



                                                                       There was this police officer hassling

                                                                                                                    A “homeless” woman



                                                                       By the Powell Street Station.



The officer was telling her to move

                                                            Move

                                                                       [Move on].

& the “homeless” woman responded

                        “Where? I have nowhere else to go!”

& the officer was telling her to

                        MOVE!!



                                                                       [Move on].



But what he meant to say is



“You are too poor & brown to be in this neighborhood.”



                                                                                                       [When will we stop defining people

                                                                                                       In terms of property ownership]?



[This is about the criminalization of poverty].

                                                                                              & the “homeless” woman responded

                                                                                              [To the officer]



                                                                                                                      “THIS IS MY HOME!!

I HAVE LIVED HERE FOR OVER TWENTY YEARS. I WILL NOT MOVE!!!”



                                                                                              & the tourists watched

                                                                                                            [As the police walked towards her].

                                                                                                            [As the police went to grab her].

                                                                                                            [As she continued yelling].






“I HAVE AIDS, I HAVE NO MONEY, I HAVE NOTHING LEFT. WHAT DO YOU WANT



FROM ME?! I’M GOING TO DIE HERE. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE & LET ME DIE!!!!”







                                                                                              & the manner by which

                                                                                              The “homeless” population

                                                                                              Is [often] describe is

                                                                                              Extremely othering.







I’ve heard some of my closest comrades

Speak of the “homeless” population



[In grand generalizations] such as



                                                                                                            “I don’t care

                                                                                                            If homeless people

                                                                                                            Spend my money

                                                                                                            On drugs or alcohol.”

As if “homelessness” were a singular portrait

                                    [A singular experience].



As if I had never been homeless.

[As if I were not sitting // directly beside them].



                                                                                                                      & it is hard for me

                                                                                                                      To imagine these comrades

                                                                                                                      Making such generalizations

                                                                                                                      & assertions about any other

                                                                                                                      Population [of people].

Consider the statements–

           “I don’t care if black people spend government money or drugs on alcohol.”

           “I don’t care if native people spend government money or drugs on alcohol.”



It’s a strange

Place to be

When your

Friends start sounding

Like racists

In the Democratic

Party. [When you

Remember

Such ignorance

Still exists].

& somewhere

There is a book

I want to write

Called “Anarchist

Island.” Somewhere

There is a zine

I want to write

Called “Gay Daddy

Loves

Cum Dumpster.”



                                                                                                            [Gay Daddy & Cum Dumpster

                                                                                                            Are alter-egos I created after

                                                                                                            Rory died].



Never mind…



                                          Let’s talk about the ownership of

                                          Land as a colonial construct

                                          & how the police state was created

                                          To protect stolen property.

Or

                                          Let’s talk about queer pessimism

                                          & how to decentralize happiness //

                                          [How we can still create lives of contentedness & meaning].

Or

                                          Let’s talk about the night Rory crashed his car

                                          Into the center divider of the 405 Freeway.

[We were so high]

                        With our hands, like kites

                                          Outside the window.

Music blaring.

                                          Tonsils clapping



In laughter!



….

….



When Rory crashed his car



                                    The metal dented, airbags deployed

                                    Smoke smoked.



Windows broke

                                    [Into granulates of glass].



                                                                    The cops laid flares



[Or broken hearts]

                                          Along the concrete floor.



& TRAFFIC STOPPED FOR US.



For us.



                                    We walked across // the paisley freeway

[Hiding a plastic baggie

Of mushrooms].



                        We called our fathers



                                                                    For a ride home.



Rory went to his address



                                                            & I went to mine.

My father & I



                                        Didn’t talk on the drive back.



[The space between us was a walrus



                                        With sharp tusks].



                                        & the home // my father brought me to



Was a million pomegranate seeds



                                                                    Waiting to explode.



Rory [later] told me about the argument that

He had with his father.



                                          [Such is expected].



                                                                    & when Rory crashed his car.



                                                                    & when Rory crashed his car.



                                                                    & when Rory crashed his car.



                                                                    & when Rory crashed his car.



                                                                    & when Rory crashed his car.



                                                                    & when Rory crashed his car.



[Too much changed].



                                        …



                                        We used to sneak out & sleep in the backseat

                                        Of that car // every night that



My father would

Whoop my ass.

                                          [So almost every night]

                                          We’d sleep there.



                                                                                                            Rory drove a green Subaru Outback



Which became my “home.”

My “refuge.” //

My “safe-place.” //

                        & when his car hit the center divider



                                          Then…



I never considered myself to be

that kind of “homeless”



                                                                                                            [Like the woman in San Francisco

                                                                                              With the rotting hands].



BUT sometimes



                                                                    [When] my father would

                                                                    Press me beneath



                                                                                                                      [The moon’s bottom lip].



& I had nowhere else to go.

& I had to leave his house.

& I could no longer stay with Rory.

& I was too afraid to call other friends // or family members.

&



                                        SOMETIMES



                                                                    When the church was closed.

                                                                    & the park was being patrolled.

                                                                    & I got tired of just walking around.

                                                                    & I would hum songs to myself.

[The love songs of extinct birds].

                                                                    & those days // I could never create ART.

                                                                    [Just these shitty narrative poems].

                                                                    [Just tangential thoughts, escapes, attempts]



Trying NOT to tell you—



                                          Yes.



                                          [I have been that kind of “homeless” before].



When the moon was

A broken headlight

& each star hung

Imprisoned by its sky.



                                                                    [I was that kind of “homeless”].



                                                                    I used to sleep in the prairies

                                                                    Behind the fire station.

                                                                    There was this old abandoned oak

                                                                    Tree, with a tire swing.

                                                                    & I made walls out of

                                                                    Recycled tarp [I strung

                                                                    From its branches]. & I stole

                                                                    Plastic chairs from

                                                                    The nearby housing tracks.

                                                                    Then I dug & I flattened

                                                                    & I swept the dirt floor

                                                                    Where I laid my sleeping bag

                                                                    [On top of the cardboard tiles].



There are twenty poems I want to write for you—

About tattered socks & cheap tattoos.

About dumpster diving for food.



                        [All the boys I kissed for a bed to sleep].

                        All the boys I wanted to be with



                                                                                                            To bring “home”



                                                                                                                      [But couldn’t].












unnamedChristopher Soto (aka Loma) is a queer latin@ punk poet & prison abolitionist. Their first chapbook Sad Girl Poems is forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press. They cofounded The Undocupoets Campaign with Javier Zamora & Marcelo Hernandez Castillo in 2015. They’ve interned at the Poetry Society of America & received an MFA in poetry from NYU. They edit Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color with the Lambda Literary Foundation. Originally from the Los Angeles area, they now live in Oakland.

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