It’s what makes a man a man.
It’s as clear and bold as the daily special,
according to my mother, glaring at my arms
in high school – her voice oscillating between disgust
& disappointment with my paunchy extremities.
The veins lost in the 70/30 meat mix that I am
– discounted for quick sale, never on the top shelf,
maybe in an easily passed bin, or at least in a plastic bag.
This off-brand version of man – an acquired taste
for women who’ve loved me, like gnawing on gristle & fat.
No, a real man’s hands and forearms
are a fleshy facsimile of the god of thunder’s:
swing the hammer, spark skin with touch,
and pull closer your woman’s hips.
A topographical abundance of veins
raises the skin, drives muscle
against tendon and bone – the center, creamy, fatty
marrow, savory flavor coating the mouth, a velvet thickness
mashed between cheek and gum. The tongue’s tip
throbs with the same pulse beating through
intricate weavings from fingertip to elbow,
a cuffed sleeve meets bicep – the romantic tourniquet
maintaining pumped girth, where it matters.
The DNA of anguish is watching
the body spill over its edges. No woman
can resist a man who cooks for them,
my brother said. It’s your only hope to find love,
or a woman’s tongue, without a man’s body.
Copyright 2022 Gerard Robledo
Gerard Robledo is a Mexican American poet from San Antonio and an immigrant son. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso, and his Spanish language poetry translations, poetry, and book reviews have appeared in Voices de la Luna, The Texas Observer, Pilgrimage, Oyster River Pages, Solstice, and Poetrybay, among others. He is a Macondo Writers’ Workshop Fellow and recipient of the 2020 Eduardo Corral Emerging Latinx Writers Mentorship.