Walking with Angels: Poetry by Emanuel Xavier

Editor’s note: Originally featured in the June 2008 issue of A&U.


Walking with Angels
for Lindsay

knows the condom wrapped penetration
of strangers and lovers, deep inside
only a tear away from risk

knows bare minimum t-cell level counts,
replacing intoxicating cocktails
with jagged little pills

knows how to avoid a cure thanks to war
how to keep pharmaceutical corporations
and doctors in business

knows the weight loss desired by supermodels,
knows the fearless meaning
of a friends genuine kiss or hug
converts non-believers to religion and spirituality

comprehends loneliness
values the support of luminaries
smiles at the solidarity of single red ribbons

knows to dim the lights to elude detection
how to shame someone into hiding
from the rest of the world
to be grateful for the gift of clothing and shelter,
to remain silent,
holding back the anger and frustration

knows that time on earth is limited for all of us
that using lemons to make lemonade is better than drinking the

but no matter how much you drink
you are always left dehydrated

knows working extensive hours
to pay hospital bills, the choice of survival
or taking pleasure in what is left of life

knows the solid white walls
you want to crash through and tear down
the thoughts of suicide in the back of your head

knows the prosperous could be doing more
with their wealth
and that everyone still thinks it is a deserving fate—
for gays, drug addicts, prostitutes,
and the unfortunate children of such
born into a merciless world
of posh handbags and designer jewelry

knows how to be used as another percentage
to profit politicians
knows it doesn’t only affect humans but animals too, without bias —providing fodder for art
and something to be left behind

if there is a God
he has disregarded our prayers
left his angels behind to journey along with us
—none of us knowing exactly where we are headed

—Emanuel Xavier


A formerly homeless teen and the first openly gay Nuyorican poet, Emanuel Xavier is the author of the novel Christ Like, a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and the poetry collections Nefarious, If Jesus Were Gay & other poems, Americano, and Pier Queen. He was proclaimed an LGBT Icon by the Equality Forum in 2010 and is recipient of the Marsha A. Gomez Cultural Heritage Award, a New York City Council Citation, and a World Pride Award. He works for Penguin Random House and is the editor of Me No Habla With Acento: Contemporary Latino Poetry published by El Museo del Barrio in collaboration with Rebel Satori Press. He was recently a TEDx featured speaker and filmed for a documentary about poets from around the world. He continues to share his work at universities and venues throughout the country.


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