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Gerard Robledo: Off Brand Man

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.

2 comments on “Gerard Robledo: Off Brand Man

  1. Rose Mary Boehm
    November 22, 2022

    Love the poem.


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