or (a Letter to My Brother I Wrote, Ripped, and Retaped)

 

Real men should be afraid of nothing,

especially not of other men.

But what of those they don’t consider to be real men?

What about the fear of even touching their blood

because it probably has AIDS?

The fear that makes every son a blessing;

every gay son a curse:

a death in the family,

a non-existent thing,

a vanishing.

 

A faggot for allowing your heart to decide.

Faggot for letting your back arch

like a dog in heat for another man to make you his.

Faggot for breaking your mother’s heart,

and her father’s father’s,

and his Father who is in heaven:

hallowed be His name;

hollowed was yours on her lips

when she used to ring your wrists

until your 6-year-old hands went numb,

yelling into your big brown eyes,

wishing that you were more like me.

 

Your place in the afterlife hijacked

by one who loves women

just like he’s supposed to,

and takes it without complaining:

 

because prayer can fix anything—

like Vicks VapoRub—

because Don’t worry it’ll pass

will also pass, and you will be judged

by people who call themselves family,

who hate you because you’re not what they

think a man should be:

what your Creator made you as

when He made you the way He made you.

He loves you, along with all the angels

in eternity who are cheering for you

to grab your piece of heaven by force.

 

The hell I tortured you with

when I joined in because I didn’t know any better,

because I’d rather be wrong than be your brother,

because protecting you meant making myself weak.

Back when I wasn’t strong enough to be strong for you;

when you were stronger for the both of us,

and all of those that needed to form a mob

in order to be strong against you.

 

When I wanted to protect you from yourself

and all the evil in your veins—

the meth in your madness—

after you told me you had HIV.

How I wished for you to be 6 again

so I could finally be stronger than you,

and wrap you in my arms against your will

until you cried yourself to sleep.

I’d carry you to your room

and heal your wounds

with my kisses.

 

But even in your weakened state,

you wouldn’t have needed my help

the way the phoenix doesn’t

need a firefighter to aid it

as its heart burns to ash,

or a sculptor to fashion

its feathers anew from cinder.

 

There will always be men

who will hate you to feel like men,

preaching the Gospel of Jesus, love incarnate,

hiding behind His cross their fear of faggots—

killing Abel, the world’s first gay man and martyr,

time and time again

out of jealousy

because God loved him more

 

Jose Oseguera

Jose Oseguera is an LA-based writer of poetry, short fiction and literary nonfiction. Having grown up in a primarily immigrant, urban environment, Jose has always been interested in the people and places around him, and the stories that each of these has to share. His writing has been featured in The Esthetic Apostle, McNeese Review, and The Main Street Rag. His work has also been nominated for the “Best of the Net” award (2018 and 2019) and the “Pushcart Prize.” He is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection “The Milk of Your Blood.”

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