One. A pregnant pause. A flash in the pan.
One sip of whiskey, then the burn in your throat.
A redacted redaction.

Two options, one fate,
someone dozes in the middle of the day.
Where’s the source utterance in an echo chamber.
Nightfall lights lights,
grapes come in clusters.

Three is surety and truce,
the perceived threat before an alliance.
Three open windows, three specks of dust.

I call four times and no one answers.
Four times or two, whatever.

If you’re tossing and turning all night
going, Where am I? over and over and over
and over and over, it’s time to burn your bridges
and move on.

From Repetition Nineteen (Nightboat Books, 2020) by Mónica de la Torre. Copyright © 2020 by Mónica de la Torre. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Nightboat Books,

Look at the homie, 
                                        even when in a gang 
              he came home to crack Nietzsche, Beyond

              Good and Evil, Will 
to Power. Believing everybody dies at twenty-four,
not seeing a future in pump-faking, even then.

              You ever try to read philosophy high?
Gone to the hole and hoped for the foul,
                                        wished only to finish. 

After rolling joints in two Zig-Zags, 
after an hour of starching pants,
he transferred trollies and buses.

                                             He’s going places.                   
Look at homie, trying to fix himself. Thinks,
out of repetition comes variation. 
                                        It takes a lot of effort
to look
                     like you’re not trying.
It should be an air ball
                                        to go to college

               at twenty-one, the father of two, just
                                     to play basketball. When

most folks say they want to change the world
                                       they mean their own.

From Post Traumatic Hood Disorder (Sarabande Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by David Tomas Martinez. Used with the permission of the poet.