Best of the Net 2019  


                                    In my hand your genitals: your words
tangled, thick hair, your lovely, uncut—
                                    I ask permission to name—

cock, you permit—
                                     & it enters & leaves, enters
& leaves, enters & leaves—I

                                    am breathing. Mourning comes
in little waves as desire comes
                                    in little waves: O—to let my mouth

be a site for feeling!
                                    In Tagalog, I tell you, there's a word
for this fullness
—Sagad: to the hilt,

                                    as in a sword or a screw.
And just like that, violence
                                    punctures the field of conversation.

But let it be transmutable, as when you,
                                    sagad in me, say ram & ride,
I think of clouds above Manila

                                    with its sky-flung blue, & sweat,
a tropic bloom city street folded metal
                                    painted Virgin Mary palm-prayer pink—

The breath moves, pain
                                    moves along with it. My throat,
then the branches of my lungs. Soon

                                    the disembodiment the act of naming
can be gives way to the warm
                                    fogginess of staying, a slow,

low atmosphere. Here. In this body,
                                    as it meets your body, there is a rhythm
like knowing & unknowing,

                                    asking, then waiting to be answered.
Once, my kiss wasn't with lips
                                    but with an O'Hara poem I fumbled

in the dark, half-memorized, to you.
                                    To be the child in the poem, weeping
in the bathtub, just as lost, but feeling okay

                                    with not returning to myself, as myself was,
just a few moments ago, before I,
                                    longing, kissed you.

- Aldrin Valdez (from The Offing)