These poems came for me,
lassoed my throat,
demanded my life’s savings,
taking me for a sunset ride.

These poems were graffiti scrawls
along the alleys & trash-strewn tunnels of my body,
the metaphoric methadone for the heroin hurling
through my bloodstream, the lifeline I already had inside
and didn’t know.

These poems were pool sticks, darkened gangways,
a swirl of sunrise after the graveyard shift,
a blood-black yelling behind torn curtains,
a child shrieking and nobody coming to help. 

They were a woman’s scent after a night
of lovemaking, a sweet touch of hand to face,
cascades of hair on a pillow,
a moan during an elongated kiss.

These poems were shadowed intents,
startled doubts, sorrows without grief,
the moon without sky,
unknown melodies…
the falling inside that happens
when you push razor onto wrist.

They came for me as I sank into my suicide,
while fidgeting in a chair,
inching under the skin,
as I wondered why I even came.

José, David, and Pedro
—I was never the same after this.
They came for me and I’ve never let go.
They came for me and I’ve perspired poems
ever since. They came for me—and all my addictions,
my sorry-ass lies, my falling masks,
my pissed-off wives, neglected children,
angry friends, and back-to-back failures
could never, ever, take them away.” –Luis J. Rodriguez, from “Fevered Shapes”

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“I did not know if the story was factually true or not, but it was emotionally true […].”
-Richard Wright, Black Boy

“Running is many things to me: survival, calmness, euphoria, solitude. It is proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movement through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary, of my body to my will. As I run I displace air, and things come and go around me, and the path moves like a filmstrip beneath my feet.” –Audrey Niffenegger The Time Traveler’s Wife

“Porter la liberté est la seule charge qui redresse bien le dos” – Patrick Chamoiseau Texaco

“Carrying freedom is the only load that straightens the back” from the English version translated by Rose-Myriam Réjouis and Val Vinokurov

“The hours of this night begin to dwindle and now, with every second that passes on the clock, the blood at the bottom of my heart begins to boil, to bubble, and I know that no matter what I do anguish is about to overtake me in this house, as naked and silver as that great knife which Giovanni will be facing very soon. My executioners are here with me, walking up and down with me, washing things, and packing, and drinking from my bottle. They are everywhere I turn. Walls, windows, mirrors, water, the night outside — they are everywhere. I might call — as Giovanni, at this moment, lying in his cell, might call. But no one will hear. I might try to explain. Giovanni tried to explain. I might ask to be forgiven — if I could name and face my crime, if there were anything, or anybody, anywhere, with the power to forgive.” -James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.” -Christopher Hitchens