Almost Buried

When my twin brother tells me stories about hanging out
With his cholo gangster friends from high school, part of me

Doesn’t want to hear it. It’s not that I’m afraid: I’m afraid to admit
That I’m afraid and I play along. He doesn’t tell me to show off,

That’s for sure. He’s not necessarily trying to scare me.
I think he’s just remembering his time with his friends;

The few that he had. They all came from broken homes.
Their parents were drug addicts. Lived in low-rent apartments,

Like us. None of his friends ever brought their drama 
To our home. Didn’t say bad words in front of my parents.

They were boys hiding behind baggy shirts and pants,
Because the world didn’t think much of them to ever

Give them a chance. I guess the reason I don’t like to hear 
His stories, even though it’s good for him to remember and release,

Is because I’m afraid to know he was ever so vulnerable;
Almost locked-up. Almost thrown away. Almost buried, forever.

Related Poems

I Cast It Away, My Body:

after Georgia O’Keeffe’s First Drawing of Blue Lines, 1916

Because two brothers make a body where none existed
God drew two bodies as one went crooked

There is a war between us. And I am losing
My brother, fabulous night panther & copper-horned

Struck by lightning, electric blue: two lines
My father pulls two ribs and one snaps into angles
In the waiting room, a body begins to fold in on itself
A body begins to pull a breathing tube from out of itself

There is a war between us. And I am losing
My brother, all copper feathers and dragon tail, chosen

In the mud of a battlefield, you’ll find my heart
Buried in the soft red clay, my body

Broke and anchored to this earth, a bolt
Jettisoned, my brother is my father’s first son

Why I Don’t Mention Flowers When Conversations with My Brother Reach Uncomfortable Silences

Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing
flowers home.
         —
Wisława Szymborska

In the Kashmir mountains,
my brother shot many men,
blew skulls from brown skins,
dyed white desert sand crimson.

What is there to say to a man
who has traversed such a world,
whose hands and eyes have
betrayed him?

Were there flowers there? I asked.

This is what he told me:

In a village, many men
wrapped a woman in a sheet.
She didn't struggle.
Her bare feet dragged in the dirt.

They laid her in the road
and stoned her.

The first man was her father.
He threw two stones in a row.
Her brother had filled his pockets
with stones on the way there.

The crowd was a hive
of disturbed bees. The volley
of stones against her body
drowned out her moans.

Blood burst through the sheet
like a patch of violets,
a hundred roses in bloom.

To My Brother Miguel in Memoriam

Brother, today I sit on the brick bench outside the house,
where you make a bottomless emptiness.
I remember we used to play at this hour of the day, and mama
would calm us: "There now, boys..."
Now I go hide
as before, from all these evening
prayers, and I hope that you will not find me.
In the parlor, the entrance hall, the corridors.
Later, you hide, and I do not find you.
I remember we made each other cry,
brother, in that game.

Miguel, you hid yourself
one night in August, nearly at daybreak,
but instead of laughing when you hid, you were sad.
And your other heart of those dead afternoons
is tired of looking and not finding you.  And now
shadows fall on the soul.

Listen, brother, don't be too late
coming out. All right? Mama might worry.