By Eduardo (Echo) Martinez
WhErE WeRe YoU . . .
your voice still echoes in Echo’s head
on nights when the rain sounds like fried chicken
on my metal window shield
my mental clutches the pencil like a crutch
lightning the paper like a Dutch
wishing I could raise you like Lazarus
chaingang migraines pressing my temple
with the tip of my trigger finger
a gentle tempest temper
colliding with the hate I have for this place
stuck wondering how one day you unexpectedly faint
and fade into fate
but still hold on to faith
my brain tried to climb out of my skull and get away
when the words came
now I’m finding a hard time casting these lines
inside a dead sea I refuse to see
my low tide eyes kept cold calm as I put my differences aside with God and prayed for you
but not for them who preyed on you
this political piggy bank that refused to see the change in you
forgive me for my Old Testament attitude
but I’m tired of witnessing young Jesus get crucified
so at night when my cell lights cut off
the porch light in my mind comes on
as I begin dialogues with God and everyone else that I’ve lost
as these Ouija board walls work our words
leaving me to scoop up misspelled text off this graveyard floor
like its my chores . . . a sort of cleansing . . . scoping the room for roaches
hoping to coerce a cure, an antidote, or an answer out of one
cause how in the hell do you end up with cancer in your blood
. . . Somewhere on the outskirts of my conspiring conscious
I’m convinced this un-convicted system infected you with it
and damn my explicit vivid
imagination that envisions images of you lying in an inhospitable prison hospital
restrained to isolation
surrounded by death in beds that become body bags
the cheapest chemo being pumped into your organs
eating a buffet away at your goals
your dreams slowly bleeding out of your nose
repo’ing every good seed you’ve planted before its fruitful reaping
peeping the reaper creeping with his clipboard
and a correctional officer’s smile making his rounds
checking off lives off his bucket list and I really wanna
buck this shit and say fuck all this
cause hope can be so factitious
she doesn’t exist . . . remember, how we’d discuss it . . . you defending
Hope, I calling her a gold-digger, a dollar on a G-string
a tease stringing us towards disappointments but you said
“E, we still need it. . .” and I’m desperately trying to believe it
as I think of the I.V tubes dripping drops of lost tomorrows into you
. . . feeling cowardly for not mailing you a ‘get better’ kind of letter, or a lie on truth
but I didn’t want some random officer screening my feelings
so I dropped a poem instead
‘cause that’s how poets vent
heaven sent to these unbendable hell bent bars
spent so many twilights in a cell
kicking shell casings attached to cold case young faces
where all good-byes clap like gunshots . . .
damn dawg, please ask God why society stopped loving us . . .
they don’t rehabilitate us, they hate us . . .
this experience, this failed experiment
has us so far from sensitive . . .
but my nigga, I miss you
so sick of living our lives like a Quentin Tarrantino flick
constantly fighting to kill the bills passed to keep us in here
my eyes rolled like credits when the news came Paul Revere
and I hear you’re terminally ill . . .
striking the saddest tone on the musical notes tatted on my ear . . .
funny how we’re
stapled with stigmas like criminal and drug dealer
even though you never sold dope, you sold hope
as we tip-toed around the silent fear we all share of dying in here
it’s been a year and unspoken eulogies continuously circle
my world like Saturn . . . trying to still figure out what’s happening
as I rerunover memories recording audios in my soul’s studio
wondering why the first three letters in funeral spell fun
my God, WhErE WeRe YoU!. . .
when my beautiful sister Monica died
Hector died, Louie died, then Luis died, and mom lost inches
of her intestine and my lil’ cousin killed himself with a gun, and so many
others my heart ain’t got the beat to mention . . . I never knew
your middle name, til’ I read your obituary . . .
and from my four corner concrete angle I’m still trying
to tackle more things that I can handle cause you looked
up to me, as if I had wings . . . and here I am looking up to you
trying to figure out things, if all this heaven talk is true . . .
cause some days I feel atheist . . .
but Godly when I sit with your ghost in my room . . .
five year olds aren’t the only ones that
see dead people . . . cause when I close my eyes you’re still
alive . . . but bruh I don’t cry no more . . .
my eye lashes have hung all my tears out to dry . . .
yo, you know the last time
I saw your sisters, they hugged me like a brother . . .
I hugged them back like my sister, cause she never got to see me rock a crowd
or this crown . . . I’m Poet Laureate Louie . . .
I hope I made you proud . . .
do me a favor though; tell my sister I miss her
and tell God I left his dinner in the microwave . . . that he’s
welcome to come back and visit and break bread with those he
claimed he came for . . . the sinners and convicted felons, ‘cause I’m
starting to feel like a mummy wrapped in cancer ribbons . . .
buried six feet deep within this unforgiving system