God is calling, he says, when the phone rings.
Neither of us answer.
Half-drunk, beneath a willow, at exactly 2:45
I take inventory:
the pitbull gnashing after the schoolchildren
as they pass; the boy,
porch-ridden until 6pm, sharpening a stick;
the man pushing
a shopping cart, black-lunged and bloated,
through the intersection.
I tell him, I’m gonna give up.
Andrés responds: God’s love is everlasting.
I tell him, This is my last one. I’m making myself sick.
Jesus, were he alive today, would be a homeless dude, he says.
Slowly, every breath kills me: it’s like loose gravel
in my chest. My body begging.
We die with only our bad habits, he whispers,
and loving what kills us is the cruelest trick the Devil ever played.
I watch the last bits of sunlight being choked
from the neon sky.
A breeze passing through the tree makes
of the leaves iridescent. Everything in this city
goes on to break us, I say.
Andrés’ body begins to shake. Although I can’t
see him, I know he is crying.
In the kingdom of this city I’ve begun to hate
I say, Amen.