The “mamaluke” lived above the no-slice
pizza joint with his Mama.
He kept a flimsy life-
sized poster from the range
beside the register near the kitchen.
It bore an outline of some “cock-
sucker” Arab of his imagining.
Concentric orbits and a hole
where the “towel-head’s” heart would have been.
That perforated sheet made Mama’s ‘little light’
feel like a man.
One military buff I know never served.
He just loves his guns.
It’s hard when your dreams get shot
My dream was to take a shot
at art. Sure there are holes,
but never where the heart
is supposed to be.
Where the heart is
supposed to be, a heart is.
When I was 20, the hottest Latino imaginable,
a dimpled, gym-jacked, black-haired looker from Parkchester
invited me to “escort” him to “a function.”
He wanted to try a “college girl.”
He had come to the right place.
Shimmering and sharp, we had not been long at the banquet
when an altercation ensued. Expletives rang out, gave way
to a sequence of shoves. Julio scooped up his gym bag
from beneath the buffet table where he’d stashed it.
Simmering with suspension and solemnity he unzipped his
duffel, glared at the object of his fury,
stopped to look into my eyes a sorry but fuck-
live-fast-die-young-this-is-who I am fervor
from its white terrycloth swaddle
and produced his undraped
A lot of men are drawn to shotguns and rifles and hand-
guns because they want bigger sex organs.
I suspect my best girlfriend from the plaid years
was content with the dimensions of her sex organs
after 1985, she never went anywhere
without a fire-
arm, a princess revolver, her off-
duty weapon. It had a Mother
of Pearl handle. It was the perfect heat
for a stylish bad-ass lady
cop to pack.
We could go anywhere drinking in Brooklyn
night with that baby nestled in its holster right
up against the metrics of her heart.
My husband used to worry when I went to teach in the projects.
I never worried. I belonged there.
I never packed a gat, but I packed a punch.
When push came to shove, I could hightail it like a rabbit.
There, in the chambers
and halls of that child-
I fell in love with my charges.
Two years later, one got shot while sitting on his bed.
I read in the Daily News that
the bullet came through the wall
out of nowhere
and killed him at 14 where
he lived and breathed
with his sister and Moms.
Once, in Detroit, a thug stuck the muzzle of a pistol
up against the temple
of the man who later became
the father of my children,
then commanded him to lie down face-down
on the sidewalk and empty his pockets.
Years later he floated
in a fleeting way
the idea of procuring a rod.
“I don't think so, Dear.
In that case, it would be me or the gat."
“Say hello to my little friend.”
Funny how fear of dying by the “gun of the hand,”
as the Amish call them, begets yearning for a peace-
At my holiday party, a soft-speaking poet and I discussed fire-
arms. He spoke of remembering how
the men in his family, each black like him,
used to lay their weapons down, at the sides
of their plates, like flatware, at picnics.
“As long as the cops have them…”
“Protection,” Julio said.
“I wasn’t going to use it. I just wanted to scare him.”
Julio called again but our romance was over before it started.
When they were 10, 8 and 7 my three brothers used to drag
a dining room chair into the Master Bedroom
in order retrieve the .38 on the top closet shelf.
My father kept the bullets elsewhere,
but the boys were one step ahead of him
and knew where to find the little cock-
shaped lead. They enjoyed loading and unloading
the six barrels clandestinely
when our parents were gone.
My father did not like having to wear his handgun everywhere
all the time. (This may be what I liked most about him.)
It was an occupational hazard.
Sometimes after a night of drinking the paycheck,
he’d wave it around.
We are lucky none of us died of it
like those families we read about in the Daily News.
He had been a machine-gunner in Korea.
God knows how many...
I suspect that’s what ruined him.