The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2018

All Issues
MAR 2018 Issue



All my real live love interests are dead
They are artists & Latino & dead
Not an epigram


Oh, That Brazilian Guy
             for Hélio Oiticica


Did I ever see Hélio—walking some part

East Village, curly headed and densely

Packed with art and drugs and death’s

Constant shadow. Was he on the corner of

Avenue B and 10th Street drinking beer

And ogling the pretty Puerto Rican girls

Was he ogling me?


Or was he living in an abandoned warehouse

Holding on to his pencil, pen, brush on paper, cardboard,

Found trash or garment district fabric off loaded by a gang

Out of the projects whisking splatter of heroin (lost income)

Dropped dangling from a cup of bitch’s brew


Oh, how to speculate this mad Hendrix loving

Artist’s movements in El Barrio, Loisida or was he

Uptown, Spanish Harlem or on the West Side, Greenwich

Village, hanging with the drag queens early a.m. everybody

Tired from the bars, the piers, the crumbling edifices

Circa late 60s, early 70s Nueva York, Nueva York


He was on a wild ride the weed his stash the dazzled dreams

of men who had

Survived torture military repression a bad economy

Yet learned to take acid trips one day at a time.


Oh, the love affairs we have with the myth

Of, the what ifs and that drug paraphernalia

Oh, night seeker, ill named, moon winds

Your direction home?


Thus created this mixed up third whirl, loud music, your lips

Dry from screaming in January wind—something mighty Hendrix

Sun lack

On a back meant for napping mid-day, heat exhausted.


Thus, the making of a hammock a thing of beauty,

Back lit by the gallerist

while duct tape coiled the rafters of some street legal post

Fly fishing flies

Pretended bait. Tight pants dropped here and there.

As thriving masquerade--of the handsome Brazilian

Who could have been the best badnews boyfriend ever.




On the death of Claribel Alegria 1924-2018


On earth, she marked her days with rage & love

& fought the generals and their army of thieves

& torturers. Her pen was mighty, so also their

Arms. Death is the shadow twin, the one remaining

In the foothills, by the backdoor, in a convent, off

A mountainside.


And yet, a mother’s breast awaits her infant’s mouth.

A rooster crows and children gather what food there is

While bells ring across the foothills when the soldiers

Leave. A music of hope even as another child is buried

And a land mine erupts a few kilometers from hospital.


We live in a time of suffering in places of beauty

Where the water and air meet in mountains dark-soiled

Food grows so effortlessly and so does greed.


We live in a time of suffering in places of beauty

Where yesterday’s rebel is today’s president

And greed cowers the hurt children who hunger

Not only for their mother’s milk but a safe place

Where peace storms the land with smiles

and the tender removal of all aspects of war


A phantasm of peace. A peace unlike the other

Ones—negotiated and then neglected, thus

Military rifles, handguns, machetes, bowie knives, unexploded landmines

All made so that peace will end and terror return


What you hear is the sea—the heavy waves come in

Go out. Stars pattern—Orion’s belt or is that his heel?

And then another woman of letters departs, will she

Step on Orion’s heel?


Would she say excuse me, I did not see your heel.

Would she try to hide her error as her celestial

Garments drag across the night sky. What if Orion


Could speak, and if he did, would he say, all the

Poets love my heel or my belt, you’re not the first

To seek an anchor here.




Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones is an African-American poet, playwright, writer and cultural activist. Her fifth full-length collection, The Beloved Community, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press and A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press) continues to find readers around the globe.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2018

All Issues