They surrounded me—a gang of pasty faces and chapped lips
singing, “Faggot, faggot, faggot,” spitting like a quiver of cobras,
and a fist cocked and split my bottom lip. They kicked and pounded
until the school bell rang and I wheezed through my closed
throat, “I’m not a faggot.” (I didn’t even know what it meant.) Faggot
sounded like a dim cave, a secret island in a fantasy book, a place I could hide forever.
At home, I removed my clothes/ ran my fingers across the braille
of welts and bruises/ undressed/ found my mother’s turquoise
gown/ wrapped it around myself/ stayed like that forever.
Bio: Don't get it twisted: Josh Fernandez is Mexican as fuck.