Latin Freestyle By David-Matthew Barnes

I remember the rhythm at night:

Your hips wanting mine,
to grind our street-smart
lust into the crush of summer
heat. The beat of lives
never fulfilled. In the dark you say,
“Keep it on
the QT, down low. Slow, go slow.
Just like that, baby. Yeah.” I say,
“When you hit it,
I’m yours siempre, chulo.”

Our love is different during the day:

The tattooed thug boys
in the park with their sparks,
ankle holsters, packing. They pick
up on the bad girls with halter
tops, hair spray, razor tongues.
I get sliced with fear as you present
me to your neighborhood, your
surrogate familia. They suspect

that the whole affair is a white
joke. I try to laugh off their eyes, claims
of their tongue and territory. I sip from
a stolen bottle of O.E. aware that I am
out of my element, zone. My intrusion
is forgotten when I share a common love

for the music bumpin’ from your sound
system. It makes us dance at Southside, makes us
forget about zip codes, colors, rivals. Makes us pound
and throb like the concrete threat of imagined guns
to our heads, knives to our throats. We know that
when the song is over, we will bleed

for each other. Slowly.

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