JUSTIN BROUCKAERT


                                          Mexicayotl  |  Simon Silva

                                        Mexicayotl  |  Simon Silva

Columbia Poem

 

My favorite thing to do in this city

is graffiti self-portraits of my face

in pain on passing train cars,

mod podge photos of my art

on ceramic coasters & sell them

for 15 bucks a pop

at the Saturday morning farmer’s market.

You have to admit:

I’ve had worse get-rich-quick schemes.

Poor has a short porch & a long backyard.

That’s literally everything I know

about American capitalism. You & I,

we have different strategies for entertaining.

I ride visitors on the pegs of my bike

past every spot I once stopped

to stretch & study the construction

of my limbs, to kick my own ass & listen

for the patella’s satisfying snap.

You drive them to breakfast,

to lunch, to the statehouse

& the ghost of the Confederate flag.

We’ve made some progress here, we hear.

At the very least, paths were crossed.

The real hero, you & I agree, is the woman

who climbed the pole

who unscrewed the hooks

who gripped the fabric in her fists

& brought it down

well before the votes passed. We admired her

from the market, where we blew pennies on bread,

crossed the street between the Black Panthers

& the Klu Klux Klan. We were too tired

for the rallies, or my knees were achy

or we just wanted a beer, maybe,

or maybe it was the heat. But it’s gone,

It’s gone & I can at least say

the loner I live her, the less I’m convinced

my body will melt its way back together.

The longer I live here, the more I find

myself clawing at my own skin.

Here’s a self-portrait: you & me on a big porch

I mean, a big fucking porch. Don’t we love

the porches here? What a guilty, privileged

fantasy: a big blanket, a soft wood.

Me with my hands on my hinges,

an ugly dollar in my pocket.

You crisping in the sun.

My head in your lap, I might dream

of doing something profitable & good.

I might dream, undistracted, of finding myself

whole, woke by the scream of protest

beating its constraints

trapped but growing in my chest.


Justin Brouckaert's work has appeared in The Rumpus, Passages North, DIAGRAM and Bat City Review, among many other publications. He lives and writes in the greater NYC area.