Papi, when I die, will you be alive?
our four-year-old asks between bites of beans.
All day I’ve fled my body—now, arrive:
throat quaked raw. The same familiar scene.

Our four-year-old asks between bites of beans,
Is candy from space? How big is sadness?
Throat quaked raw, the same familiar scene:
legislation now metonym for madness.

Is candy from space? How big is sadness?
How many lives, I wonder, are worth
legislation? Now: metonym for madness
like my clutched gut moments after his birth.

How many lives? I wonder. Our worth?
I guard my loves with hope I don’t believe,
like my clutched gut moments after his birth
made a minefield. I weigh the odds. I breathe.

I guard my loves (with hope I don’t believe
like God). I surrender my son to this world
made a minefield. I weigh the odds. I breathe
as if it can protect him, his lips curled.

Like God, I surrender my son to this world
for mercy. After Uvalde, we pray
as if it can protect him, his lips curled,
I barter with karma. Use faith to pay

for mercy. After Uvalde, we prey
on loophole, Bible verse, worst self, & fear.
I barter. With karma, use faith to pay 
for more time, as though The End is Near

on loop. Whole Bible vs. worst self & fear,
some dads buy a gun, like a prayer reprieve
for more. Time, as though the end is near:
the hours offer little space to grieve.

Some dads buy a gun like a prayer reprieve.
All day I’ve fled my body—now arrive:
the hours offer little space to grieve.
Papi, when I die, will you be alive?

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Carlos Andrés Gómez is a Colombian American poet from New York City. He is the author of the poetry collection Fractures (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020), selected by Natasha Trethewey as the winner of the 2020 Felix Pollak Prize, and the memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood (Penguin Random House, 2012). Winner of the Foreword INDIES Gold Medal and the International Book Award, Gómez has been published in New England ReviewThe Yale ReviewPoetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World (W.W. Norton & Co., 2022), and elsewhere. Carlos is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

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