You Are My Brother

by Gonzalinho da Costa

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I saw you dirty, sleeping in the street,
Your dry hide, carbon smudged ancient pottery,
Your fingernails, black as oil pooling in the driveway,
Your hair spiked like hawk feathers clumped by doormat mud.
I mistook you for an asphalt ball
Tumbling out of a truck,
Raked then rolled into the road,
Or dung of vegetarian animals, dark green
Sea urchin exploding needles, grass.

What stroke of misfortune befell you?
Has some broken gene uncoupled your logic?
Why are your glassy eyes transfixed by chimeras?
Did some personal tragedy tear your psyche into two?
No bread for a father,
No home for a mother,
No education for currency, unemployed,
Misfit piece in a manufacturing assembly line,
You wander about, a gyrating flywheel unconnected to a machine.

If I filled your cup with coins, I myself would go begging
Because your needs are a bottomless horn of empty.
Am I, Cain, being called to account for your destitution?
Am I, Dives, caressed by fine silk, thickened by choice meats?
I tell myself I will live simply,
Giving to you beyond the needs of my family,
Working to create a better society in which the poor
Are less destitute and the destitute are less.
See, my heart is a pocket fraying holes.
Tracked by an accusatory finger,
I want to look away but I cannot—
You are my brother.




“You Are My Brother” was first published in New Asian Writing on May 7, 2015.

Category: Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing