Marcos L. Martínez
Epistles to Reinaldo Arenas: Invocation
I take you into my mouth, Reinaldo Arenas, mouth your praises: honeysuckle, night-
blooming-jasmine, bougainvillea te invoco sweet sickly vine that chokes off any stem it
clings to moonstroked blossom whose scent burns off come dawn riotous purple-prosed
pistil and stamen branch all thorned up.
We banter down boulevards of books. “Before night falls,” you say, “I’ll strip you bare.
Tu piel una pàgina para leer. Tu espalda la espina de un libro.” You stroke my back,
Arenas, caress each word. The alleys and sidestreets of old Nueva York mazed library stacks.
We parade paragraphs about one another. Pen in hand we scribble penis in hand we diddle we
stroke each character on the page. I’ve absconded the past to transcribe you.
Reinaldo, mi amigo, mi amor: this is the whore you’re words have made. You’re my
skin, my spiritflesh, my holy ghost of the holy of holies of O. Que puta soy. I’m nearly as old
as you were when you died, and I’ve had three soulmates in this life. The first died five minutes
after I held him in my arms at Genesis Hospice. A spontaneously shattered wineglass by my
nightstand his T-cell count obliterated like crushed glass in the blood a spear of light shot
through his veins then gone by dawn. Is that how it was for you, Reinaldo? The grasp, clutch,
choke of breath before morning?
My third soulmate is an enigma: all boat-liquid-fuel-ignition one moment leaking
coolant the next but something’s cracked in the engine between us nothing works right
anymore. Still, he’s the taste of laughter, the curl and fin of wakes thrust up from the stern: blue
water, blue horizon, all shot through with diesel fumes. It’s beautiful it’s cobalt it’s clouded up
and this is the murk I’m left with as my second soulmate stands beside me oblivious yet looking
out onto the waves.
Reinaldo, mi barquito, you are the tender bridled to the boat of mi lengua. My tongue,
your words: we’re writing this in tandem.
Marcos L. Martínez is Editor-in-Chief for Stillhouse Press, an independent press affiliated with George Mason University’s Creative Writing Program. As a Sally Merten Fellow, he taught creative writing to high school students and adults throughout Northern Virginia. Marcos earned his MFA in Fiction at GMU and is a Lambda Literary Fellow. His work has appeared in The Washington Blade, RiverSedge, and Whiskey Island. A native of Brownsville, TX, Marcos lives in Alexandria, VA with his husband Wayne Johnson.
This poem is not previously published.