An Alluded to Letter from DTM for Matthew Olzmann

David Tomas Martinez
and Vievee Francis concerning love, redemption,
            and the TV show Empire
 	    might not be the most august
of openings, but like hypocrisy in this great falling  	
 	    hegemony, it’s all I got.
 
                     Besides, what’s history but
a conversation we’re born into without context,
 
and what is society but three friends who keep dipping
to the DM’s from a group text. Oh, America, where its
most valid
 
 	    ID states, I am Erica, in glittery pink
hearts, the hologram hinting at the fact that this card holder
 	    has a dogmatic Top Forty devotion,
only eats organic granola, and raises strays humanely.
 
It’s easy to be angry when the constitution starts for some,
We the People, and begins for others, Well see, you people.
Some can’t start a sentence without To be fair.
                    	     	
   	                This is where, if I were a white poet, I’d be ironic,
        especially if I had, in the Stevens’
   	vernacular, a mind of winter,
which is a generous manner of saying said poet’s
                                emotionally snowed in.
 
It’s still socially unacceptable in my community
to admit predispositions toward depression.
In part because we think sadness is bougie. I sure
as pig believed
  	                that I was too broke to be
depressed. Machismo culture means, Matthew,
that we never needed any other emotion than
 
power, anything but anger was middling, that
I never had the courage to be anything but
                         mean, to say, hey friend, I see your achievement. Hey friend,
I see your achievement. Hyperbole shades in
 
what we are afraid to say. In my experience,
when someone’s really feeling you, they’ll ask,
You got some black in you,
 
don’t lie. Beautiful black women, ask me again what I am,
touch my hair once more, tell me it must be the Indians
in me. Tell me otra vez, while holding my ears, while
I look up at you, no tienes labios pero tus besos
 
             son como azúcar. Beautiful black women,
we’ve built so many types of pyramids. I can love you,
and dis
 
                        like the rhetoric.
 If you say you don’t smell beach-y, oceanic,
 a wave breaking obsequiously, then you don’t. Skin
 
       	     can’t be the night, too
filled with a lonely white consciousness.
 
   	                  We up in church yet, Vievee?
The dog and pony show of white tears makes some of us
 pretty pet-able. And here is where if I were a white poet
     	     I’d say black women are saving the world.
 
        	          Some of the poorest poets swear
by their Kraft. A politics. Perfection, beauty were never white
	    	                                    aesthetics. Despite this, pimps
 put white girls out during the day, black girls at night.
 
 	                  Rachel Dolezal went on the nightly news and
televised us with falsehoods, darkened us all, but she probably
understood Louis Simpson best, who said every
aesthetic statement is a defense of one’s own,
 
so when I say I love you, what I mean is I love what
I am, but especially, maybe more so,
what I’ve never been.

More by David Tomas Martinez

A Kiss

And sometimes it is
loss

                                                       that we lose,

          and sometimes

it is just lips. When I was


                           a child, I would ask my mother
to tuck me

                             in, wrap me tight in blankets,

            make me into a burrito.


                           Sometimes I would wait in bed,

pressing my body stiff, like a board,

mind like a feather, silly— setting the scene

                        

                        to be seen.

                                          So I could be wrapped.

                                              So I could be kissed.


And what

                                  I miss most,


is being            made                                 again.

Prayer

I must
          not succeed.

                      Success is the mind-killer.

Success
           is the little-death
           that brings total

obliteration. I will face

                                 my success. I will

permit it to pass

                       over me and through

me. And when it has
                       gone
                                                past, I will

turn the inner

                      to see

its path. Where

the success has        gone there will be

nothing.
                      Only I will remain. 

from Forgetting Willie James Jones

1.

It's not water to wine to swallow harm,
though many of us have,

and changing the name
of Ozark Street to Willie Jones Street,
won't resuscitate,

won't expose how the sun roars across rows of faces
at the funeral for a seventeen-year-old-boy,

won't stop the double slapping
of the screen door against a frame,
causing a grandmother, by habit, to yell out, Willie.

It can't deafen the trophies in a dead teenager's room.
That day in '94 I felt strong.

I walked down the street with nickel bags of weed
in the belt loops of my Dickies,

and a bandana strung from my pocket.

That's when I thought trouble could be run from,
could be avoided by never sitting
with your back to the door
or near a window.

I swore by long days and strutted along a rusted past,
shook dice and smoked with the boys

that posted on the corners:
and men cruising in coupes, men built so big
they took up both seats,
I rode with them that summer.

That was the season death walked alongside us all,
wagging its haunches and twisting its collared neck
at a bird glittering along a branch.

Willie was shot in that heat,
with a stolen pistol,
in the front yard of a party.

It poked a hole
no bigger than a pebble
in his body.

The shooters came from my high school:
we sometimes smoked in the bungalow
bathrooms during lunch.

A few weeks before Willie got shot,
Maurice had been killed—

An awning after rain,
Maurice and Willie
sagged from the weight.

Some say it is better
to be carried by six
than judged by twelve.

Some say the summer of '94
in Southeast San Diego
was just another summer.

Related Poems

6.3.96-6.4.96

Dear Adrienne
 
But love was never more
than what Elijah
listened to
                        That small
                        that still
a summoning forever
immanent
regardless of its wavelength
pitted against tyrannies
gigantic
in a kitchen
or some other battlefield
                       computer rituals of quit
                       or cancel
                       or the friend who lies
It is often—like the calling 
of the psychopath
“a clean cut kid”—
that we mistake
the madness of the trickster
demon
for our own
or 
minimize the meaning
of these words on open
opening 
space
 
inside this cartoon
context
where it’s normal
to approach a wall
for money
 
this then
is the lens 
to magnify
ignite
redeem
and willingly defy
the maggots eager
for that moment when
our spirits die
and dying
deify the fearsome
meretricious
killer agencies
that jeopardize
the birdsong of our days
 
Oh, Adrienne!
This is that love
                                  It’s here
                                  Between us
                                                          growing