Being Able To

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.”

Los Angeles

The holiness of sunrise

trampled down

by people in cars

rushing to work


In cracks of roads

plants shoot up

grasping the air

without certainty of survival



DAH’s ninth poetry collection is SPHERICAL (Argotist Press, 2019), and his poems have been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, Poland, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Africa, and India. He is a Pushcart nominee, Best Of The Net nominee, and the lead editor for the poetry critique group, The Lounge. DAH lives in Berkeley, California where he teaches yoga to children in public and private schools while working on the manuscript for his tenth poetry collection. His eighth book is Full Life In The Day Of A Poet, selected poems (Cyberwit Publishing, 2019). Visit:

Era Not of War

We’ve come out of the dust

in our mother tongue

not to praise the people

with astronomical hoards of bucks

and numbers, but those who’ve risen

out of volcanic ashes, those pushed

into labors for biddings not theirs,

who’re capable of envisioning peace

between nations when negotiations

take work with credible research

and willingness to hear clearly,

while a missile fires off at the twitch

of a ring finger. We’re here to give

our piece to the masters of war

who may be disinterested in seeing

what’s before them, as they duck

responsibility for the consequences

of their acts just to maximize profit.

Every day the masters of war fight

the human consensus, masters who,

stumbling upon disputes, provide

not wisdom but lethal arms to every

side, who in the face of Earth’s limits

of materials wage their public war

for control and to gut education.

And yet we’re here to recognize

those who’ve stood for peaceful

coexistence, who understand links

of firing off a missile to destruction

on the ground, who can envision

many years of peace, with altruism

toward those in need, and not forget

that war is a catastrophic collapse.


James Grabill

James Grabill’s work appears in Caliban, Harvard Review, Terrain, Mobius, Shenandoah, Seattle Review, Stand, and many others. Books – Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994), An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003), Lynx House Press. Environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Books One (2014), Two (2015), Wordcraft of Oregon. For many years, he taught all kinds of writing as well as “systems thinking” and global issues relative to sustainability.

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