Race Was Not a Factor,

they said. He said, It

looked like a demon. It

charged [him], like [he] was five, It

Hulk Hogan


two legacies

ghost-stenciled into concrete, one shadow

sifted into ash. He sleeps at night—No

regrets. His family certain as the closed lid

of a coffin

they will be safe.


It happened, he says, It was

unfortunate. It is

what It is.


Which is the invisible


eighteen years of a boy’s

stifled blush, choreography

of a scowl with index and middle

salute, sinew flung forward, barrel

chest soft as unmixed concrete, whiskerless

chin line. His crown was bursting

forth and bowed, inverted king

posing for a peon graced with steel, skull

twice knighted by fire. The final blade

of light cut endless through the high

frequency shrill that fluttered

from his mouth, dull thud from the brim

of a broached squeal. Because child. Because

scared. Because tired. The boy was tired

of being shadow, dust film on boot

lip, wanted to be luminous. Sometimes a life

splinters to break. To scatter.

To be.




I see my nephew pressed to the edge

of boyhood, though he looks a man

in my imagination with his flinch

and blush muted, he is still now

carved raw from the giggle that over-

takes his toddler body. Thomas

the Tank Engine is this moment’s alibi

for letting go. As I watch him now

I see him still in that faded cobalt,

whale-imprinted bib he kept soaked

through but, also, I see the son I have

planned for, knowing there is no plan.

The nights                 accrue

like gravestones in a tiny plot of land like light-

less hallways that encircle the earth, an end-

less tether that yokes the crisp dusk from each

day as it is drained of light, what can never

be seen cast against what can never be

unseen. The promises made against

that other unspoken promise, grief

made invisible beneath the shadow

of something too large to see, how all

our children share the same erased

name because of it, what leaves them

riddled with everything they cannot see:

piercing &   rigid   &                always  more

weight than anyone predicts,        & the child

still in the street. It is two minutes and a few

seconds past noon on Canfield Drive

in Ferguson, Missouri and he is still

right there, in the middle

of the street, not my nephew. Not my



Carlos Andrés Gómez is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Winner of the 2015 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared in the North American Review, Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, Muzzle, CHORUS: A Literary Mixtape (MTV Books, 2012), and elsewhere. For more, please visit www.CarlosLive.com.