Sunday, November 22, 2009

After Midnight, by Jalal

After Midnight
By Jalal
for Milton
(from It's All Love: Black Writers on Soul Mates, Family
and Friends
, edited by Marita Golden)

When opportunity
I open my door
After mdnight.
You appear
First in line
Of homeless men standing
Outside a shelter.
You enter my apartment

The neighbors on my floor
They come and go
stand between the elevator
And my door,
Waiting for a way out.
curse me,
"That Black faggot bitch got crackheads coming up in here."
Peering through their peepholes
They don't love us
Or even know how
the pairing of two Black men
Is so much greater than the rumors they've
reduced us to.
Rumors I hear when I enter the bar
Where no handsome
stranger flirts with me.
Rumors that litter the streets we walk
pollute the eyes around us
With self-disgust and self-pity.

opportunity knocks
I let you in,
You open
My refrigerator door,
You take
Sacrifices pakaged
And ready to be eaten
I run your
bath water, wash your clothes
Lie in my bed with clean sheets,
But there
are places within me
French kisses and erections cannot reach.

opportunity knocks
America sees shiftless garbage walking
Through my
door -- a crackhead, a killer, a thief,
Another nigga racing past them in
I live beyond the expiration date men
See stamped on my fae.
I'm a forty-year-old Black gay man
Living a life challenged by HIV

What makes me different from those who would
Exploit you,
Knowing you are
Unemployed, homeless,
And a crackhead on call who
sells his body
For a rock, food, and shelter?
I worry about you
don't have to fuck me
Or get fucked in the mouth for a meal.
I won't wet
your appetite for self-destruction
With my cum,
I won't buy you crack
Or give you money.
I will grieve each time
You tell me you can't
Smoking crack
And that you like your life
Just as it is.

When opportunity knocks
You fuck me with the sincerity and passion
Of a condemned man in prayer
Isolation binds us
Soul mates locked in
Hell's hotel room
And this is our wedding night.
Am I liberated or
Lucky or reluctant
Free or afraid to be hurt again,
Discarded by men
ISO (in search of) personal ad playmates
Wanted --
Black men, must be younger, must be lighter, must be darker, more
more masculine, more status conscious, more attractive than . . .

When opportunity knocks,
I want you to find a way station of
Not at the bottom of a beggar's cup
I want us to give more to
our lives
Demand more of ourselves
Than despair.

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