Selected Poems II


Dan Encarnacion

Brandishment. [from the novel-in-verse Rhumba.]



In retrospect, he knew the only-child-son of the closing-into-elderly-white-woman-widow-neighbor immediately next-door right-over-the-six-foot-high-red-stained-wood-fence who gave him birthday and Christmas gifts each year he grew-through-childhood and who was at his baptismal reception in his family’s home—photographic evidence being of the closing-into-elderly-white-widow-neighbor at his baptismal rite standing, praying with the rest around the dining table laid out with, packed with platters of help-yourself-food, with the rest praying before eating and the only-child-son being there too in his late teens or twenty or so (he thinks he sees him in the picture, too).

He’s curled up on someone’s shoulder, in someone’s arms, but he doesn’t know whose.

In retrospect, he knew the only-child-son next-door who-would-become-a-priest was gay, though when the priest was alive and him a boy, he didn’t know what gay was nor what was homosexual other than what he felt, mulled over and fantasized about, what he instinctively instinctively found instinctively natural in himself and found exuding from the only-child-son-priest.

Maybe not retrospect.

Maybe back at the time.

Maybe his mother and older sisters said something to the effect.

Back then.

And that it was good he became a priest.

And he was afraid of the priest.

Or maybe molded to be so.

And though he was afraid of him being a priest, he was curious about the only-child-son from next-door who’d become a priest.

His first occasion to witness someone he knew was breathing become an other sort of thing.

And maybe it was the change—going away then coming back as something else that made him afraid.

And Little Rhumba remembers his thick brown beard.

And Little Rhumba remembers wondering why such a good many number of priests wore beards.

And Little Rhumba remembers Jed saying through his trim-trimmed beard, “You’re too good-looking to wear a beard.  Only ugly guys should wear beards so that they can cover up their ugliness.”

And Little Rhumba remembers remembering never having to had spoken to the priest.

How he was afraid.

Or the priest was distant.

Or molded to be so.

Because we’re all clay.

Little Rhumba knows that’s what the priest would say because he’s a priest and he’s meditated on these things.

What is one led to believe.

On Sundays, after the masses, the only-child-priest-son-of-the-closing-into-elderly-white-woman-widow-neighbor-right-over-the-high-red-stained-wood-fence would visit his mother’s house and Little Rhumba, out his bedroom window, which allowed himself to see, if standing on a chair, over-the-fence, looking, saw, would see, that the brown-bearded-white-only-child-son-priest brought with him a boisterousness of some five young black boys, or as many that would fit in a mid-‘70s-sized four-door family-sedan before seatbelts became insisted upon, some a little older and some a little younger than Little Rhumba’s own self.

And the sun would be shining dry-the-laundry bright.

And Little Rhumba’s mother tried to look away.

And the boisterization of black boys would be bouncing, bounding, boosting around the picnic table in the only-child-son-priest’s mother’s backyard with the only-child-son-brown-bearded-priest all of them chewing through McDonald’s burgers and scarfing down McDonald’s fries and sucking up McDonald’s drinks under the dark-brown-stained horizontal overhead slat-wood-beamed patio shelter casting bars of sharp shadow across the blastering brood and Little Rhumba wondered why there were no brown boys there like himself.

Activity so foreign to Little Rhumba’s family’s house.

When the only-child-priest-son died he was thirty.

And maybe Little Rhumba’s mother and sisters said something to the effect of cancer.

And Little Rhumba got to go to the funeral.

Not too young to see a dead priest.

And Little Rhumba saw the casket was opened.

And Little Rhumba went up to view what someone looked like dead.

His first occasion to witness someone he knew was breathing become an other sort of person.

And maybe it was the change—going away then coming back as something else that would make him.

But Little Rhumba wasn’t.


And that it was good he became a priest.

No young family left behind.

And Little Rhumba remembers the thick brown beard.

And beneath his thick brown beard a deep red flushed face the color of Little Rhumba’s penis when he got embarrassed.

And the only-child-priest-son of the now-firmly-elderly-white-woman-widow-neighbor immediately next-door right-over-the-high-red-stained-wood-fence did not look sick.

Just way too red.

He may have died during the first years of AIDS.

When no one knew it needed its own name.

When all people could only see it against what they knew before.

When cancer was the embracing-bracing word.

And Little Rhumba hears Narwhal say, “You want him dead of AIDS to justify your assumption that he was gay.”

And Little Rhumba hears himself say back, “You want him dead of AIDS to romanticize his death.”

And when the priest at Little Rhumba’s mother’s funeral snubbed Little Rhumba as they crossed each other in the swung-opened doorway of the church—the priest going out, Little Rhumba coming in.

And when the priest just stared at Little Rhumba through forget-me-not blue eyes, when Little Rhumba said, “Good morning, Father.”

And Little Rhumba thinks he flashes on Nobody.

And when Little Rhumba directly met the priest’s drying-laundry bright blue firmament gaze framed by thick fulgid black hair and thick fulgid black beard.

And when Little Rhumba’s adult six-foot-high-brown-skinned-height loomed over the shortish hairy Scot-like white priest gripping the door—the priest going out, Little Rhumba coming in—that he’d flung open as Little Rhumba was grabbing his handle on the out-other-side.

And when Little Rhumba didn’t hear the priest say good morning back.

And when Little Rhumba felt a hair-raising synapse snap.

And when the priest pulled his forget-me-not gaze down and rushed off, away from, away to wherever he going to go.

Little Rhumba knew he was gay.

Little Rhumba knew he was smit.

Little Rhumba knew he’d been tabbed.

And when after the burial in the cemetary the priest serendipitously got lodged into the front seat of, to share the front seat of, the limo that Little Rhumba had ridden to the cemetary in.

And when their thighs pressed.

And when Little Rhumba rubbed the priest’s thigh methodically up and down, up and down—slowly, hiddenly—with his own.

And when the priest gives Little Rhumba his card and twinkles and smiles and says, “Call me if there’s anything you need,” loudly for people to hear with the priestly handshake of two hands clasped over the departing person’s hand.

Little Rhumba knew he was gay.

And maybe it was the change that made him afraid.

The going away then having to come back.

And Little Rhumba would not call.

And Little Rhumba would not invite him over over pretense of seeking consolation about his mother.

And Little Rhumba will not say, “I’m glad you spent so much time at my mother’s house talking with her.”

And Little Rhumba will not ask the priest if he saw the family photo albums.

And Little Rhumba will not ask the priest if he saw photos of him.

And Little Rhumba will not ask what his mother may have said about him.

And Little Rhumba will not live up to the initiated seduction in the limo.

Won’t take him into his bedroom.

And Little Rhumba won’t call him.

And why not Little Rhumba, why not.

You wuss.

And Little Rhumba hears himself say to Narwhal, “You want to have sex with him.  You have the keys to control what I do.”

When you’re given a phone number it means someone wants you to call him.

And Little Rhumba thinks he flashes on Nobody.

And that it was good he became a priest.



Lenticular. [from the novel-in-verse Rhumba.]



Brown was congestying.

Brown was gaggingying.

Brown was congealying.

Brown was suffocatingying.

Brown was claustrophobingying.

Brown was a blind.

Leaving Little Rhumba’s schooled larynx to wad up inside him like stuck with a ball of harried hairy twine.

Leaving Little Rhumba to be unspeakingable and sewed to the couch that fugged up and fogged out dense other people’s brown.

Leaving Little Rhumba to sit stuffingedly, stiffingedly, screwed down, silent as a little toy sentinel.

Verging, vergered into a situated cushion.

Catching stills with squirreled movingying eyes of the Spic-Span scoured, sporadically snowy soap opera shows.

Snowblinded soap opera shows aburst with amplitudinal’d imprints of particolored pale-face palated people taped.

Palated-pale-face people taped in studios framed in fast frequency phasedly smoking up the stolid walnut-brown consoled tv used to occupy him while he sat babysat by an other brown mother.

They proffered no odor.

Blinking in to focus ground eyes, Little Rhumba.

Brown—he was congestying.

Who are you?, said the caterpillar.

Brown—he was gaggingying.

I don’t see.

Brown—he was congealying.

Keep your temper.

Brown—he was suffocatingying.

Are you content now?

Brown—he was claustrophobingying.

You’ll get used to it in time.

Brown was a blind.


Contained in the couch’s cloth.

Contained in—residuelling remains couched too many growing others’ close kids and people, too much humid fulsome food, too eagerishly enlarging scents of unseen beings alive.

In the dark brown houses of other brown people.

In white white houses.

White houses, the houses of white people, had space, had light, had air, had options, had order, had things not wanting to tumble, to tumble, had open, had openings, had doors, had windows aperatures that said you can go outside, that said you can leave when you want to.

Walls were white, dispersingyingly white, reflected spun versicolored bold upholstery.

At least the one or two or so white houses that he had ever been in.

Not for long.

Little Rhumba’s mother’d said they have the money.

Little Rhumba’s mother’d said they have the money to live.

Little Rhumba’s mother’d said to live that way.






Brown—a blind.

And in Little Rhumba’s mother’s house.

And in Little Rhumba’s mother’s house all the wooden curios brought over, in, with Little Rhumba’s parents were brown.

And all the sundry furniture stained dark skins of brown.

And the sofa-sleeper sleeping Triscuit brown.

And the walls walling chief-petty-officer service-uniform brown.

And the carpet he petted relief-map-molded-mountain-range brown.

And the family car portaged Hexol-bottle-browned brown.

Thought Little Rhumba.

Little Rhumba thought that everything was brown because he was brown, that they were brown and that all they had there was that much more being a part of them being brown.


You’ll get used to it in time.


Are you content now?


Keep your temper.


It isn’t.


Who are you?

A blind.

But it was so.

Everything so was brown.

It was so only so the dirt wouldn’t show.

The dirt that they’d—that he’d.

That heed, they’d heed—that he’d erode.

And in time, and in time they will all be stars.



Grok. [from the novel-in-verse Rhumba.]



What was he doing here? Little Rhumba said.

Shadeless sidewalks, empty sidewalks, blare a bright glaring glare.

No pedestrian shoppers push home with bought pleasures.

What was he, to himself Little Rhumba said, doing here?

Fleeing cars shoal, only time poles, untreed houses crouch bare.

And within all this withdrawal you hear.

What was he doing here? to himself.

About the tall black unmoving man standing at the foot of a long crosswalk crossing an unstoplighted, one-way, unspeedbumped, four-lane wide wide street body language silent, still as a sentinel, nobody to hear him should he speak what with all the rushing cars whipping wind whipping by, Little Rhumba said to himself, What was he doing here?

And the august August sun silver squaring glare.

Waiting waiting waiting.

Clothed in bolts of layered grays.

The tall unmoving black man waiting.

‘60s blank-faced shoebox apartment buildings shoe-horned in into Victorianian plotted domestic lots divorcing still-standing lower-caste Queen Annes from one another’s shade.

The unmoving tall black man is waiting waiting.

Queen Annes’ undraped eyes wide to see.

Under the unveiled august sun’s silver squaring glare.

Little Rhumba presumes to cross.

Little Rhumba presumes the tall black unmoving man waiting strung tensely patient steeling sweaty under the glaring squaring sun.

His head to the right cocked right ear dropped unsunglassed eyes beamed off up into the sky inclined or haps reclined seemingly seaming in seamless’d nothing as if here hearing small quiet things closely considering and deciding things things things askewed.

Little Rhumba approached approached approached.

Up to the tall unmoving black man.

The motionless unmoving tall black man.

Establishing a sentinelish presence on the curbside, the blade of the rushed wide street.

Parallel-parked cars sunning sealing cushioning about the unmoving motionless tall black man from the onward rushing traffic’s scope.

And the august August sun silver squaring glare.

The motionless tall black man unmoving him waiting waiting as cars whipped wind whipped by.

Approach approach approach, Little Rhumba.

Little Rhumba thinking What is he doing here?

As if he were but doing time.

Silent silent standing silent red-ended white stick resting atop the shoulder on the hidden side, by virtue of the head, the far side from the one-way traffic waiting waiting as cars fly fast by him under glaring blaring glare of mid-afternoon summer sun.

The tall black man blind waiting at what he understands to be a crosswalk.

He is hearing Little Rhumba presumes.

Hearing hearing.

The tall black blind man’s hearing here.

For a quiet cushion in the car rushed street.

Standing silent white stick resting atop his shoulder on the far side from traffic, the tall blind black man, something resolved in his stance that someone will arrive to guide him across.

Standing silent white stick resting atop his shoulder unseen by the rushing onwarding one-way traffic, the blind tall black man, something insisting in his stance that he not have to try to cross that the traffic will subside at an inevitable time.

Standing silent white stick resting atop, something queenie in his pose, the tall black man blind, something proud indignant demanding denominated in his view.

Per view.

But those are all just grist.

Those are all just words, Little Rhumba.

Black ink sluiced into weighted figures figured filigree-figured on fleshed glare-dampened paper.


Here are your words.

Would you like some help getting over?

Oh, but lead-off with hi said from a distance, so as not to.

You don’t want to scare him.

The tall black blind man says, “Thank you, yes.”

Or something to that effect in a gentled grateful voice.


Little Rhumba can’t recall every little detail.

But the atmosphere, indeed, was charged.

On account.

Overlined by gratitude.

Takes Little Rhumba.

Little Rhumba takes the tall blind black man’s right arm by the elbow to lightly lift as if a gentleman escorting some one’s fair lady, but the blind tall black man keeps his arm stiff straight-down uncocked by his side, moves with Little Rhumba as they step from the curb, his right hand hung at leeside, level with Little Rhumba’s hip.

Tell Little Rhumba.

The crosswalk lines bounced glaring blaring sunlight making me hard-squint, cars just bursts of color-siphoned silver scale shine, couldn’t make out their skinned tints until they slow, and should stop, unmoving festering motion, I saw reds grays blues blacks whites coppers as I show I’m walking I’m walking regardless this tall black man blind across the street, we walked we walked and to the cars to a man I nodded thank yous.

Tagged Little Rhumba.

No, Little Rhumba is no Boy Scout.

No, not at this point in time.

All was on the up and up.

He is of the age of a man.

Legal to drive, legal to drink, legal to be employed, legal to perform acts of con.

To invite consensual sex.

Acts with conviction.

His obligation only was to kindness.

Little Rhumba and the tall black blind man walk.

Walk walk walk between the bright white sistered thick crosswalk lines, across the dark bathypelagic asphalt, over to the other side of the four-lane wide wide street—faces of mumbling paused cars on Little Rhumba’s right, a tall blind black man suctioning up against Little Rhumba’s left, the august August sun squaring glare up front, shed curb shed sidewalk in a wake behind.

The blind tall black man’s right hand cupped snugly firmly securely over Little Rhumba’s cock and balls.

My what long arms you’ve got.

Every three strides the tall black man blind squeezes.

Squeezes squeezes.

Every every every three strides the tall black blind man squeezes his right cupped hand as we ford the stilled wide street.

To the tall blind black man didn’t say anything did Little Rhumba.

Best to get his deed done quickly.

No point in causing hubbub.

Pity for his blindness.

My what big hands you’ve got.

Fear of his blackness.

My what hewn hands you’ve got.

Despite the jeans of Little Rhumba.

Little Rhumba could tell.

How rough.

My what big.

Every three strides the blind tall black man squeezes squeezes.

Every three strides the tall gay blind man squeezes.

My what big teeth.

Under the unveiled august sun’s silver squaring glare.

On Little Rhumba’s right, muzzled mumbling cars wait to motivate up over the hill.

Clutched to Little Rhumba’s left, a tall blind presumptuous queen squeezes Little Rhumba’s grand jewels every three strides every three strides every three strides.

My what big eyes.

Do they see that I’m being probed?

Don’t look into the cars, Little Rhumba, if you don’t want to know.

Do the cars laugh?

Aren’t you liking it?

Smile at the cars and wave.


You’ll never see.


Never ever see.

Them again.