David Tomas Martinez
About suffering they were never wrong,
the old rappers, and though I hear
so many friends my age complain,
neither are the new rappers. For instance,
“Bands,” better known by the hook,
bands will make her dance,
by Juicy J, the Tennessee rapper
from Triple 6 Mafia,
known for his television show,
“Adventures in Hollywood,”
a fish-out-of-water tale where gangsters
wear cowboy hats and gold teeth
and do gangster shit
like drive golf carts with spoked rims,
like fistfight with no shoes while getting sushi,
and who knew gangbanging
was not just a city skill
but also a rural tool,
who knew about Arkansas before
the “Bangin’ in Little Rock” special, particularly
when Houston-based rapper Scarface,
of the infamously misspelled
Geto Boys, told us that
your ‘hood ain’t no harder than mine,
even if I thought of Houston as a needle
in the hay stack then, and I once met
Scarface at an indoor swap meet in San Diego
infamous for gang shootings,
though it would have been more aptly named
a swap meat because, there, many men and women
traded their flesh iniquitously,
but I should have known
Scarface was right
because I once got in a fight
with some dude who looked exactly like Scarface
except not as wide or dark-skinned or really anything
except that he was black, and I was scared,
but that’s the thing about the Juicy J song,
it’s easy to hear his lyrics and only see
the shine of a diamond studded grill on MTV,
a teenage pop star sitting on his lap
in a snow white nightie
singing about sexuality.
It’s easy, I say, not to hear the wisdom of lines like
it’s not a strip club if they ain’t showing pussy
in a world where full frontal nudity by women
is allowed in movies, even expected—
but the truth is, not even on Skin-A-Max
is anything surprising revealed.
Not even in a movie like Short Cuts
do we see anything more than The Fall,
not even when Julianne Moore’s bottomless,
and the ever autumnal foliage between her hips
burns six feet of orange, red and yellow
do we not miss the forest for the trees.
And this is the strangeness of sex,
when I have drunk too much and satisfaction settles
across my body like a summer heat
that was so warm
during the day
but so suffocating at night,
and I know nothing’s happening this evening, sometimes
I stare at my thighs with pity,
gaze at a ruler slumped
against his throne,
Hamlet, at the play’s end,
but I have never understood how one person could lay down
and open themselves for another,
show that even finite places carry eternity, and not a heaven,
but forever. Forever is dark.
A clitoris is like a teenager with a hoodie walking down an alley.
A penis is like a teenager with a do-rag walking in an alley.
Forever is near but they wont admit it.
A poem ain’t a poem if it ain’t showing pussy.
Something there is that loves a mask, loves darkness
that must be muzzled and blinded, silenced by rope,
made not bright. Riot is quiet drug from a pick up.
And let there be light to protect the silent.
Don’t let the uniform wear you,
less than more. It’s easy to hide in clothes.
Lay down the mask. You’ll see. Put aside the promise of protection.
You’ll feel. Ventriloquism is the only true voice.
we’re all racists, all of us bigots of the highest, kill us all.
From behind sheets we speak, on horseback
with noose in hand. Our notions swing in the breeze.
My consciousness is a cut eyehole. In the yard, wood brights aflame.
So, galloping on what others have said and thought, yelling,
we circle a house and burn it down, and move on to the next, silent.
skin I am
in this skin
no blacks no
no days off
no billies just
clubs just rope
feel bit by
David Tomas Martinez’s work has been published or is forth coming in Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Boston Review, Oxford American, Forklift; Ohio, Poetry International, Gulf Coast, Drunken Boat, Poem-A-Day, Poetry Foundation’s PoetryNow, Poetry Daily, Split This Rock, RHINO, Ampersand Review, Caldera Review, Verse Junkies, California Journal of Poetics, Toe Good, and others. DTM has been featured or written about in Poets & Writers, Publishers Weekly, NPR’s All Things Considered, Poetry, NBC Latino, Buzzfeed, Houstonia Magazine, Houston Art & Culture, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Bull City Press, and Border Voices. Having earned his MFA at San Diego State University, he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing program, an emphasis in poetry, and he is the reviews and interviews editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, after having been a Breadloaf and CantoMundo Fellow. His debut collection of poetry, Hustle, was released in 2014 by Sarabande Books, which won the New England Book Festival’s prize in poetry and honorable mention in the Antonio Cisneros Del Moral prize. He is the 2015 winner of the Verlaine Poetry Prize from Inprint.