A Brother Sits Directly Across From Me on the Red Line


Photo credit: “Dreaming South, Viktor Le in Lace,” by Ireashia Monét, 2015

and      immediately      we are performing the arithmetic
of aloofness      trying to work out which one should be

relieved he is not the other      noticing my lavender-sheathed
fingers      I painted myself      which perfectly offset

my wet-sand cargoes      but are too close in register
to my navy bomber jacket      he pretends

not to look      glances off to the left       if he sees me
I am flesh      his superiority borne on not dignifying

my perversion      mine is borne on rejecting his dignity      leaving
my hand splayed out on the knee      where the nails

look their best      glinting off desert backdrop      the other set
encircling my phone like a lotus blossom      I am measuring

things I can’t measure      wondering if he is coastline
or delta      he does the same for me      yes

light-skinned as a damn DeBarge      but where from?
he is thinking about what he would do

should his boy ever get wise enough      to call himself
how I call myself      be up on a red line train

just after rush hour      with lilac nails      I am thinking
about the cylinder of mace at the bottom of my bag      which my girl

just gave me two nights ago      shit talking in a downtown
parking lot      at the edge of an indifferent skyline      we put a spell

on each other’s heads      be safe
before parting ways      I can’t let any good-white-person know

there are brothers I am careful of      he      in turn      can’t admit
there are brothers whose indifference is unholy      not looking

for no manhood to enter them      or otherwise      and even
before either of our stops come up      before he has given

up on me       or I him       we are still running figures      how many
steps away is the exit?      who will get up

and walk off the train first?

4 responses to “A Brother Sits Directly Across From Me on the Red Line

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