For Joseph Bashar Nakhleh

Daddy is yelling now, angrier than before, his voice snarling and snapping in bursts of staccato Spanglish as if his words were buffering, the speed of his lips not quite matching those of his thoughts, his hands overcompensating for the truncated syllables and burnt phonics, fists pummeling the card table in the kitchen with all the weight that lifetimes of frustration carry as the cutlery temporarily levitates before gravity remembers to be inviolable and fork and spoon skitter across the floor.  Mommy is hoarse from screaming, half naked, half crazy, in the living room grabbing the collectible ceramics embossed with the Virgin Mary cursing unintelligibly as she arms herself for Daddy who is on her now pointing his finger menacingly in her face as spittle flies from his mouth. Neither notice Baby poking his head out from under the century old voussoirs, crowned with the same ornate keystone that celebrates all of the masonry adorning the windows of the 4th floor. Baby is talking to Kitty who is perched on the edge of the fire escape because Kitty knows innately that loud vibrations precede viciousness and to avoid them whenever possible but Baby never learned that violence is anything but the way things are and will always be and Baby wonders why Kitty is hiding on the black trellis of ironwork outside the window and Baby calls to Kitty in the stale cold of a purple sky as his beckoning is drowned out beneath the screams of quotidian horror. Neighbors do whatever it is that neighbors do, turning up the television under the waning cycles of an indifferent moon.

That is one story from tonight. In an hour a group of boricuas will scatter as a lone dominicano opens fire and one of his angry bullets will carom off the yellow brick of The Stephanie whistling dead on the silent asphalt of Eldert Street. Tomorrow there will be a big holy roller in a crispy white suit in front of the Iglesia de la Profecia de Bushwick ranting about the evils of homosexualidad and you will remember that people hurt because they are hurt. You will remember the Puerto Rican day parade is on the 8th this year. You will remember that all hearts are by nature circumspect, that in the 105 years The Stephanie has stood on Eldert Street only 4 tenants ever died there, and only one from foul play, you will remember that nothing stays, everything goes.  Baby turns his head back from the window and picks up spoon and knows as you do, that the purpose of gravity is to pull all things into themselves. 

David Joez Villaverde is an editor for the After Happy Hour Review in Pittsburgh. His writing has been featured in the Belle Rêve Literary Journal, The Jewish Literary Journal, Restless, Runaway Hotel, Apocrypha and Abstractions, The Pittsburgh City Paper, Uppagus and the Loyalhanna Review. He has forthcoming work in the Great American Wiseass Poetry Anthology. His writing can occasionally be found at