Friday, June 15, 2012


Un candelarioA lamplighter
Another from the hoard. This one chose me. I came across an old schedule book from 1993, the year my uncle, Andres Candelario, died. I grabbed the book, and it opened to my original, handwritten version of this poem which I composed after visiting him in the hospital during his last days, as his body gave in to AIDS complications. His last name derives from candela, the Spanish word for flame, also related to candle, chandelier & lamplighter. Uncle Andy's last days are also chronicled in my short story, The Handsome Man.


Yea, though your candles glow dimly—
stubs to the towers I once saw—
and yea, though you walk through
the shadow of a death you deserve,
I come to your bedside
not to blow out your puny, pungent flames
but to watch them die
out on their own, perhaps
even stoke them a bit
with forgiveness.

No, I don’t forget
the days we had nothing,
yet you took it all,
anyway, to sell for a few days
euphoria. But I also remember
holding your hand through the streets
of Manhattan, your friends laughing
as you put the dice in my hand,
shouting when I rolled sevens.

I don’t forget the tears
my grandmother shed
every time you were caught
in the act, or after the fact,
not knowing which of you would survive
this inceration. But I also remember
walking through schoolyards
with you, my friends asking,
“Is that your dad?”
the temptation, not knowing
my real father, to simply say,

I don’t forget the peace
you broke, showing your face,
waving your carrots
in my mother’s face, pulling
her off her wagon
by her teeth. But I also remember
the tears you cried at my bedside
as I lay on the brink
of death: the porno
mags you gave me working
as well as any medicine.

I owe you no debt,
The days I basked
in your glow are equal
to the days I wished
to spit your flame out,
tears & smiles flowed
concurrently. Yet
one final request
since you are incapable
of making one: please
tell mom I said, “hello.”

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