"Génocidaire," "He's NOT my President," and "Desiring my boyfriend's body"


Our "separate-but-equal"
was always a crime
against pigmentation
and bank accounts.
I hunger for jail sentences.
Your voice
leaves me trembling
with anger.
Night's pregnant with raw desolation.
You've botched virus procedures
painting the portrait
of our parting lives,
I dress
with the only skin I have,
your rival, never your man.



He’s NOT my President

the wind is what I believe in,
the One that moves around each form

Veteran, by Fanny Howe

I eat breakfast, watch t.v.
while I think about the nurses
and doctors in protective gear
on Mondays, Wednesdays,
and Fridays.
The wind reaches
into the pockets of the night,
sails through hospital corridors
I don't recognize, deserted
emergency rooms I had never seen
where promises are paid
with more promises, and lies
are the substitutes
for more lies.
My keys draw lines of fire
on the counter in the bar
near my house. They're
building nationalist utopias,
banishing unmasked,
unprotected, racist women protesting
in front of the White House.
My job is my father’s old job,
I write the newspaper headings,
pour more salt on my tequila,
stare at each individual crystal,
frighten away old precipice birds.



Desiring my boyfriend's body

I had a boyfriend once, who believed in decomposition. He told me this as we swerved in his truck, careening the back roads of Lajas, Puerto Rico, finishing the work of some come-before travelers, flattening each roadkill carcass into unrecognizability. "Less for the highway crew,"
he’d say.
egrets, known as
the Great White Heron
gather at the maw
of the stream feeding
into the lake
too many to count. I thought they were solitary birds. But there they were eating the ticks of the pasturing cows. My boyfriend wouldn’t have sex with me. He didn’t believe in latex, artificial hormones, the calendar or his own control. I can’t, he said, risk bringing a life into this world I’m not prepared to care for. And I’d plead, cajole, argue for his skin and my skin, sheathed in multiple prophylactics, only succeeding occasionally.
at certain times,
lake flies clot the air, thrumming,
their mouthless bodies
my body hungers, vibrates
with no discernible control
I have a friend who careens between dark places; imagines his beloved, alternately living secret lives and love sessions with the girl of his dreams, placid, perfect, and untouched. He sets snares along the creek bed when they are in season. To harvest turtles.
you’ll need a tub
to trap that blood
an oil-slick
the meat is tender, when caught
between clades
On the river road drive to work, two cars ahead, the driver hits a squirrel, and the wind catches its body, swirling the stunned creature like a little kite. By the time we approached it the animal had regained its consciousness and was dashing to the side of the road,
the weight of itself
front paws
extended, body taut
it survives
The body wants what it wants and what I wanted was his body.



Sergio Ortiz is a retired English literature professor and bilingual poet. His recent credits include Spanish audio poems in GATO MALO Editing, an important Spanish Caribbean publication, Maleta Ilegal, a South American journal, Indolent Books, HIV Here and Now. His poems are also forthcoming in Breath and Shadows.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 22:42