Say Wall

by B.B.P. Hosmillo

— after Allan Popa / after Brian Teare

Say things about sadness read again. Say some nasty words
are gone. Say for the time being faggots are exhuming
their dead bodies from the mellow chords of want.
I understand the blues, I treat my body with the pity
it deserves. Say pity and listen to the new men I’m with.
Say you want to hear more and compare it to your
secrets squeezed to the core of your collar bone into which
I have buried my face. Say the moan, the secret, and the body
are all one thing. Nudes deliver the most accessible and boring
particularly when the heart is unattended. Say the heart is difference.
Say the paid night may detect it, but you can hold it
like your own ear. Say it and don’t run away. By running
away I’ve once reached a town axis and objects and hammers
of waiting halt together grippingly just like my own room
but it’s not my room. This town graces queerness and death, its people
toothless, no yellowish thorns inside the mouth, no force
to cut stones and resistant flesh. What a blessing to welcome
a monster
, they exclaimed and named their town after me.
Say my name and live there. Say there has always been
memory, a hand that suddenly comes out of nowhere, a hand
that snatches a sack of bones that you have become and
leaves it at my door. Say it’s a real door and enter.
I can’t sweep the bird poop off my throat without you
being household, telling birds they are American airplanes
and their bombs, phallic as what my mouth can take,
will never be suffered in our territory. Say phallic
and remember the first thing you planted in your town.
A recent mother of a million twins curses it and kills a hundred
sons when I say it’s mine. Say something like sorry nation.
Say always. Everyday, it is my hungry note to watch
a wide television to which this earth surrenders.
Say television and see me detectable through its dark screen
channeled only as sky. Say the way from here to there
is not me with a knife hidden in the chest of an accused
bird, a living thing whose life is not safe. Say knife and I will
drill again, dig some landscapes that cried war yet something
else was cried louder. In Manila, in Hanoi, in Sulawesi, in Phnom
Penh, in all my photographs of effeminate men and soft boys I had
tried to exhume your lost hands, those transcendent molds
on which my skin had never been something else but
brown as soil, brown as delicateness observed in a simple leaf
emblazoned by its own rawness, its right to fall, to grace
goodbye, to have a scent when burned. Say scent is always
a room. Say this room, this very history tells a passage
of disabled love that finds you amputating your hands, a notable
trace for what must not be found. Say wall. Say stand
behind me and let my back collapse. I have carried a chapel
and a terminal ever since, and now knowing my breath
no longer makes a prayer nor a ride, what for is my back?
A bait table to attract insects? Say wall and stand behind me.
Say behind takes the collapse back and death is a speech
that never stops. Say death means you will come again
for the record. Whatever sadness it is, I have the record.

B.B.P. Hosmillo is a queer poet of color. Author of The Essential Ruin (forthcoming), his writing has appeared in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Margins (Asian American Writers’ Workshop), Kritika Kultura, The Ilanot Review, Assaracus, and many others. He received scholarships/research fellowships from the Japan Foundation, Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, and the Republic of Indonesia. Contact him at