I’m leaving you tonight,
but before I leave I’m taking your chess,
your ping-pong, your Poems of Others,
your quiet geometry, your sloppy watercolors.
I always thought your nudes were ingenuous
and your self-portraits perfidious.
I’m taking your fatal pouty mouth,
the oil in your scalp, the virile volatile day
when we went to see your mother’s face.
I’m taking every square centimeter of cloistered soap
and skin bacteria from your sink.
And your affection for sentimentality
and for marshmallows.
The yacht is already sold,
and the money is kept safe with the mafia.
I’m taking your teeth, one by one,
all of them, and some more.
You’ll never ever be as chic
as you were when you lived with me.
I’ll wear your torso on my sleeve
and your allergic reactions on my knees,
already pale and sick for a lifetime’s sentence
of Saturday’s nights without the company of crickets
and your asthmatic burly posture. I don’t know
how you went so far with that attitude.
I ‘m taking and taking a little more—
your unresolved conflicts
of sex and ego with the mirror,
the thrill you get from stains on a white shirt,
the pancreatic cancer you never experienced,
the bitter-sweet days
where you had me but desired her.
I’m taking the vision of love in your progressive astigmatism
and your accelerated breath every time you saw a beautiful girl,
a relic more than a memory, stark as a roasted pig,
still pink, on the Thanksgiving dining table.
I’m taking all that defines you as a person
because I cannot think of any other way
to be remembered.
Give Me Joy, Not Liberty
No one feels well here. Not the turkeys during Christmas,
not the mouse in the pet shop doing acrobatics with its tongue,
not the maiden, not the nun, not the bricklayer,
not the beautiful but toxic Russian for-hire assassin
who sat down to drink in a club by the beach in 1998
and hasn’t gotten up since.
The orthodontist is sad. The dog walker is sad.
The sommelier racing downstairs for a Sancerre is sad.
The traffic cop with the fat neck and the loaded gun
ready to shoot anybody is also sad.
The communist novelist looking for inspiration
in a café decorated with posters of Che
cannot believe how sad the world is after he wrote one word
on a scrap of newspaper soaked in champagne.
Ocean Drive Drag Queen Nina Blackrose is sad,
so is the trophy wife cloistered in a yacht.
The young are as sad as the elderly.
The bald and the handsome are equally affected by suffering.
The beginning actress who didn’t get the role in the audition
is sad and needs sleeping pills to make it through the night.
There are no sleeping pills in America anymore—
Marilyn Monroe took them all.
The Italian whisky-seller
sadly stays in the scene all year round,
littering cigarette butts and glasses half full of Jack Daniel’s,
shoulder to shoulder
with sad thick gold- toothed naked trapeze girls,
dropping bills as if he owned
that trashy juke joint on 11th street.
Sadness is more serious than acne. Just ask Benitez,
or the technician from the cable company.
I had an abortion on a morning as yellow as margarine.
My doctor, who was obviously depressed,
recommended that I avoid heavy lifting
and cardiovascular activity for a week.
I sit by myself on a bench in the playground
to look at the children playing.
They all have features that foretell potential for grief—
the rigidity of a jaw, the crude rhythm of a hip,
the deranged leg in the air—
as if they had inherited tragedy from their parents,
who were once naïve 7-year-olds
chasing restlessly after a ball,
but grew up to become sad sommeliers,
Grethel Ramos Fiad is a Cuban-American journalist, writer, poet and photographer currently living in Miami. Her poetry rejects the cheap comforts of dogmatic conventionality and welcomes the disclosure of the dissonances in human nature.