There is no lesson
You take your first punch and learn
that anything can be a knife
with enough ambition.
You hear a firework in the dead
of night and learn that no blood
is too much for the streets to swallow.
Someone leaves you with nothing
but memories and you learn praying
is just a way to steady the hands.
Faith is the gasoline that makes God
burn and God has no religion
but instead only self-belief.
You feel pain so bright it sings
as you learn all things you wish to forget.
Melissa’s father opens the door.
The officer tells him to step outside.
Melissa’s mother tells the room to smile.
She asks if this is a party or a funeral.
Melissa, too strong for her own good,
Marches to the door with hopes to free
her father. I put my hand on her shoulder.
I make her sit with a stare.
In the end, it was a warning
to keep the noise down
but with a room full of Mexicans
that is nearly impossible.
Finally, the cake comes.
Melissa watches her father
as he stares through the blinds.
She grabs my hand,
I wish them all nightmares,
she whispers in my ear.
She blows out her candles.
Then slams her face in the cake
And laughs a laugh that has no fear of volume.
Yesterday, a boy brown as a spoiled plum told me I sounded white
He had the accent I had lost long ago. I wanted to tell him our blood is the same blood. Tell him I can’t go on boats that lose sight of shore. That I stand still when white people Talk. To Me. Like. This. That I’ve been places where I’ve been mistaken for a coat hanger. That I feel the weight of a country I have never felt between my toes. A weight like the heat of a burning house. A weight that sits on my chest as I sleep. A weight heavy in the way only skin can be.
But before I open my mouth he asks me to speak our history in the language it was written. And there was silence. And the boy steps onto the street and walks away. And walks. And walks. And runs. And runs. And flies like a boy who has no use of weight.
Gabriel Mundo @gabrielmundo98 has been published in various online and in print journals. He was raised in Illinois and is currently a student at Carroll University in Wisconsin. In 2019, he served as Poetry Editor for Portage Magazine. You can follow him on Instagram where he posts more poetry.