where the birds don’t sing

DSC_0238 ps
@snapshotsteve

brooklyn-born black boy
broken boy, orphan boy
uncle’s doing crack, boy
auntie on her back, boy
why she doin’ that, boy?

it’s hard when the only hero
in the house is heroin
and you live in a part of bushwick
where the cops don’t come
and the birds don’t sing

it’s 1997 and you’re only 17
and you’re sick of being broke
and your eyes are on the green,
so you load up your gun
and you conjure up a scheme,
“i’m gonna rob somebody”

taxi, taxi
hop up in the taxi
homie in the backseat
made it to the backstreet
taxi, taxi
give me all your money
47 dollars?
hope you’re being funny
taxi, taxi
this ’bout to get bloody
picture of your children?
listen to my buddy
BLAM

17 years later,
that same part of bushwick
is littered with white folk
and coffee shops, and cops
to protect them.
and the birds are singing now,
matter a fact, they all sang
about that murder in ’97

elvin hill was sentenced to life
for the murder of my father.
mom was happy, and i love her,
but i couldn’t help but think
the only difference between
me and you at 17
is that i was living free
and you never had the chance to.

“where the birds don’t sing”

©Steven Cuenca

 

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la la lia

Playing 23
@snapshotsteve

when our hands first met
and our lips connected
it felt weird, wrong, foreign
as expected,
that’s how it felt like
with the girls before you
and after her.

i know you hate
when i write about her
and you hate it even more
that i never have anything bad to say.
i’ve just never been a sore loser,
i’ve always been a great one,
and there were less bad than good days
and i don’t mind greys
when they’re followed
by rain falling on my face.
i’m hard to rattle
and even harder to impress,
but i digress,
this poem was meant for you
and just wanted to say that,

when our hands meet now,
i’m in an expensive hotel in new york city
and we’re shitty off of canned beers,
eating candied nuts,
and playing cards in our underwear.
it’s super humid,
i was stupid enough to
leave the hot shower on
in a tiny room.
we watched mtv music videos
until we died.

when our lips meet now,
we’re in a cheap motel.
you told me not to bite the tablet,
but we needed to cut it in half
and i’m not a very good listener.
i think i was too drunk to feel the high
but the future spoke through me
when it said, “i love you.”
i thought i was lying
and we thought it was funny,
but it’s lightning when you touch me.
and it’s long drives, and love, and life
and i say, “goodbye–
4gud,”
and you say “cya,”
but that’s just a song we sing,
la la lia.

“la la lia”
©Steven Cuenca

 

trains

Playing 17
@snapshotsteve

wheels grind against the steel,
sparks fly, they screech and stop.
your cheek’s pressed against the window,
tears form, warm, but cold they drop.

you see new colors moving,
new sounds, the world is changing.
you’re not half asleep, you’re half awake
lacking motivation.

get up, get up
breathe your destination.
breathe until your nose bleeds,
run until your toes bleed,
run towards whatever the fuck
you. want. to. be.

you were brave enough to mount the train
brave enough to sit and wait
brave enough to move away
from me

trains are just a yesterday
i am just a yesterday
everything was yesterday
be brave and say, “fuck yesterdays”

wheels grind against the steel,
hope that it sounds like music.
push everyone out the fuckin’ way,
it’s your life, don’t let them use it.

“trains”
©Steven Cuenca

 

the creases of your lips

Apples 11
@snapshotsteve

i was so high
that i saw jesus in the creases
of your lips
and i laughed like the
little man i wish i was.

we were so high
i felt close to my father,
not the one who stepped away,
but the one that passed away.
i saw jesus in the creases
of his lips
and i laughed like the
little boy he had met
when i was four.

we were so high
that i thought you loved me again
and my eyes were dislodged from my face
and they were floating easy
and they looked down at what we were
and my eyeballs couldn’t laugh
but they knew well enough to roll
so they rolled away
until the pinks and the reds of
my under-eyes showed
and my body thought it was
seeing jesus on your face
but my eyes were watching
the starry night sky through
the window of my car.

“creases of your lips”
©Steven Cuenca

 

 

scratching

zebra 6
@snapshotsteve

my body bleeds,
my body itches
when i think of you

and i’m scratching every night

and nothing feels worse than picking scabs the morning after
and nothing feels better than picking scabs the morning after

the pain i feel
when the breeze hits my open flesh
makes it hard to walk,
but i get there still

“scratching”
©Steven Cuenca

a spring poem

zebra 2
ig: @snapshotsteve

i felt the sun’s warmth for the first time this year.
i was driving to your place
and i felt Love on the top of my cheeks;
an unspecific Love.

there was butt rock playing on the radio,
i tucked it neatly behind my ears.
i wanted to scream, i wanted to cry,
i wanted the drive to last forever.

they think that god and Love have faces.
well, let me know when you meet them,
’cause i’ve never felt closer to holy spirit
than i did driving under the spring sunlight
trying my hardest not to crash
to eternalize the moment.

“a spring poem”
©Steven Cuenca

anymore

she said, “you need to give a shit,”
i told her i don’t need anything anymore

she told me i’m an asshole,
i told her i’m not anything anymore

any more alcohol, she said,
“you won’t be any fun anymore”

i told her i don’t give a shit,
probably said some asshole things,
cracked another spiteful drink,
and watched myself implode

i’ve never cared so much about anything before
any more of this,
and i wont have any more to give
anymore

“anymore” 
©Steven Cuenca