Kyle Lopez


                                                                             Abuela’s father would tell her

                                                                             he only liked two things
                                                                             black: tuxedos
                                                                             and Cadillacs

My father said boys once whipped him
and his sisters as they walked
home from school,
spat ‘niggers’ at them
between belt lashes so hard
his sister left soaked in piss and tear

                                                                             Schoolkids deemed me black,
                                                                             or brown but not black,
                                                                             or Spanish, light bright, black enough
                                                                             or nowhere near

My brother told me ‘we black,’
sagged his pants and balled at the park
16 months olderdecades ahead
in decoding his face

                                                                             The mirror once whispered to me brown,
                                                                             not black. Stared me down looking nothing
                                                                             like a tuxedo
                                                                             or a Cadillac


Kyle Lopez is a poet from Montclair, New Jersey. He is a TuCuba fellow with the CubaOne Foundation and an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University, where he is also a Goldwater Fellow. Kyle serves as Poetry Editor of EFNIKS, a media space for queer and trans people of color. His poems are published or forthcoming in The Florida Review, Argot Magazine, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Cosmonauts Avenue, Capital Pride DC, and elsewhere.