by Clifford Fabro Rivera

The Homeless embody the City.

Gentrified Messiah

One of the things I miss about the city is the walking
And I mean walking.
Not your run-of-the mill
Stroll into the sunset
Like you see in spaghetti
Westerns. No. More
Like sores to bloody pavement
Circa 9/11
When your Landlord scolded you for leaving
Wet footprints on restless sidewalks.

Couldn’t find any
Pools of Shiloah
So we squat
For Public fountains,
Fire hydrants, and rain,
Just rain. Lots of it, please.

Brian and Kelly
So fresh and so clean
Off Oregon’s Trail
Know the drill, personally:

“I mastered the art of walking in New York today. It’s where you walk with fast steps and at some point you get in sync with everyone else and you flow, like a human jigsaw puzzle…”

A human jigsaw puzzle.
Put the pieces together
And you’ll know your place
In one fucked-up face.

Beside the highway, you’ll find one shabby mikveh:

Papi Love

This Buddhist poet (who has a tendency to want to be my dog in another lifetime) and I rush to the cokeline for an anniversary reading at Bar 13. It’s freezing out. I could see our breath. I’m worried. My ghetto car could be ticketed again or, worse, towed away. The open mic isn’t free. Call her Frances.

I notice this young dude cradling a puppy with his beanie slouched forward. “I want to buy him a drink,” I intimate to my classmate (who brings stray dogs over to my place and calls them her Friends). She’s distracted. Rehearsing her lines. The image is ingrained in me, like that scene from Kids, where the squatter is struggling not to fall asleep, with his hand buckling, over and over. Pal’s like, “Forget coffee. He’ll be there, later. We’re late.”


Tonight, Regret.
Forget: Him
Hunched over
Hiss Papi
Outside Barr 13.

I’ll never forgive
For being inn
A hurry.
Tomorrow, Balak


So the Propaganda Party ends. We hang out, on the curb, craving upstate diner food, only to find the youth and pup — gone. Vanished. Off to Florida, maybe, no idea, but, I swear to Gad, I could have done something, anything for him and his dog. I’m bummed just thinking about it. Lost dream. Lost cause. Lost opportunity.

She’s since relocated to Berkeley.

Time Travail

You’re born into this Lousy World. You wade through school Bullies and Gossips. You realize the East Coast isn’t for you, so you become an actor. Just like that. You’re a Star. You take off, from Figurative Egypt and Sodom. You’re greeted by designer sunglasses, inverted question marks, and camouflaged exclamation points. At Ben Gurion, you cut lines. How rude. You traverse the Galilee Club, honor elders, Doreen Dotan and David Katz, with complimentary ice cream in Safed, avoid Ramah Drama, and end up in Tel Aviv, marching in the Pride Parade. You wave, posing awkwardly. You smile, broadly. You loiter, in a shady stairwell, bumming cigarettes off Olim loners. You’re giving free light shows to off-duty IDF soldiers, when, suddenly, you encounter a Filipinit Chef who reminds you to brush your teeth, so you hitchhike up the Mount of Olives. She feeds you unlimited Salmon and Pita bread. You ignore the Muslim Megaphone. You turn on the boombox. Your pillow is soaked with excess air conditioner water. You fall asleep, on the makeshift carpet (the longest nap of your life). You wake up, aloof. A Sinit Hobbit is rushing to board a bus bound for Bethlehem, clutching a shofar, about as Big as she is. Yawn. You scratch your balls, shirtless. She passes by, like lightning. You missed the bus, so you skinnydip in the Jordan River, instead. You and your bearded Swiss buddy ~ sporting a wife beater and mullet ~ chainsmoke to the Western Wall. A tourist takes a pic. You share it on tumblr. Then a bomb goes off, Black Hats emerge, and you’re suddenly Lost in Brooklyn, Running On Empty.

Clifford Fabro Rivera is a Queer Poet of Color whose selections can be found in a Variety of publications including Asian Jewish Life, HaLapid (“Semi Annual Journal of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies”), Jews in ALL Hues, My Jewish Learning, ZEEK: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, among others. He previously worked in the Editorial Departments of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (aka AAWW), A Gathering of the Tribes (under the tutelage of Steve “the Heckler” Cannon), and Persimmon: Asian Literature, Arts, and Culture. Warnings are not devoid of implications


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