Orpheus as El incomprendido
—after Ismael Rivera
Voice scratching itself out my throat, tearing the air. Yo
sé esa agonía. Yo sé perder. And this is pain—that I believe
the voice to boil the air into molasses, melaza que
ahoga, drowns the vocal chords. Cursed with such sweet. I’m going
to sing all sugar. Cavity the ears of any who won’t leave me solito,
pobrecito, pobre diablo—¿quién reza por mi? This pain? ¿De estar
enamorado? Smitten by the honey dripping down my own chin when
I sing, runoff of each thick note. Only thing I have to sustain me.
Reminding me I’ve always known how this ends. How I die.
With a song caught in the middle of my throat, all the sound I have
reversing through the air, a symphony of molasses bent
backwards into the voicebox. This clogged larynx forever concert. Choral
reckoning forever on repeat. Fate of any sonero incomprendido.
To drown forever in the sugar of their own voice. Azúcar que no ni
satisface ni alimenta. All in search of the perfect song, canción que tú
no puedes imaginar. Canción that finally reaches the sun without the agony
of this voice dissolving back into the ocean of my body, broken so no one
can resolidify it. Melody lost forever in my spit. Tell me,
is there any torture worse than to lose a song like this body has?
No desamor, no traición, no lágrima or falsely uttered querido
could ever equate to the voice abandoning invention. This tall
noise having no end, floating past sky. I’ll tell you what it’s like
to bubble the air molasses. Nadie me quiere, la dulzura que soy.
Malcolm Friend is a poet originally from the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. He received his BA from Vanderbilt University, and his MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of the chapbook mxd kd mixtape (Glass Poetry), and has received awards and fellowships from organizations including CantoMundo, VONA/Voices of Our Nations, Backbone Press, and the University of Memphis. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including La Respuesta magazine, Vinyl, Word Riot, The Acentos Review, and Pretty Owl Poetry.