Are You Cheating On Me? (Poetry)

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“I tried to change
Closed my mouth more
Tried to be soft, prettier
Less… awake
Fasted for 60 days
Wore white
Abstained from mirrors
Abstained from sex
Slowly did not speak another word
And that time my hair grew past my ankles
I slept on a mat on the floor
I swallowed a sword
I levitated
Into the basement
Confessed my sins
And was baptized in a river
Got on my knees and said, “Amen”
And said, “I mean”
I whipped my own back
And asked for dominion at your feet
I threw myself into a volcano
I drank the blood and drank the wine
I sat alone in begged and bent at the waist for God
I crossed myself and thought
I saw the devil
I grew thickened skin on my feet
I bathed in bleach
And plugged my menses with the pages from the holy book
But still inside me coiled deep was the need to know
Are you cheating on me?”

–Denial, Lemonade (Beyoncé)

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Photography by Teegee Villanueva. 

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The Virtue of Saying Little

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I recently reactivated my Facebook profile following a month-long “cleanse”. I felt instantly overwhelmed by the familiar; photographs of young mothers and their children, manicured lawns, and women posing artfully before mirrors, their heads tilted on one side, hands bent at the hips.

A caption over one photograph told this unsuspecting reader to “fight the good fight! Never give up”

Whatever she said.

***

Once upon a terrible valentine, I was an aggressive Facebook user. A troll who bombarded friends and non-friends with updates, quotations from the holy book, righteous lecturing, the works. I wrote very frequently about politics, about fashion, sex, about issues that concerned the national interest, and I pretended to revel at the immediacy of my own delusions. But deep inside I was playing a character (even when I wasn’t aware of it), a persona, that of a well-to-do provincial, who knew it all, and seen it all. Who read Plato and Jean Bodin, embraced the full spectrum of post-modern political philosophy and proffered poorly constructed arguments to an audience who didn’t care.

I gave up when the likes began to dwindle. My dear, it was discouraging.

So I found Instagram and began to communicate using only photographs, a medium that was foreign to me (until now). Pictures photoshopped and doctored to a T. Innocent “selfies”, evolved into photographs of street peddlers, urchins in funky, neon hand-me-downs frolicking about and red-tinged stills of drug-saddled sex workers earning a living in alleyways all over town.

I was telling a story in pictures.

And while I was limited to images, and constricted to a few pixels, I found it immensely fascinating…that I could convey an idea this way. That I could express so much, and say so little (or nothing at all) liberated me in some way: in such that my art, my photographs could more or less, speak for itself.

***

So Facebook.

I posted an entry today. A photograph of half my face. I posted it without much ado, without a caption. 11 likes and counting. A woman wrote a comment complimenting my eyes. I failed to thank her. Not that I had to.

Elizabeth, Mississippi (Poetry)

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a cigarette

in between my lips

in hers, the hollow afterglow

a whimper, a song, a sigh of great relief

Billy Idol plays on the radio

 

Elizabeth lays in bed

her head heavy, bowed down

her body entangled over mine

she emerges from her second baptism,

distraught and yearning for a river

She rises swiftly from the precipice

and dons her favorite yellow dress,

 

She thanks me for my kindness

I thank her for her service

I call my wife on the telephone

I tell her everything’s alright.

–Poetry by Teegee Villanueva, photography by Teegee Villanueva

The Bored (Photography)

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I sit at cafes, observing the goings-on of the bored. There’s a woman outside, eating madeleines on the fly; she’s distracted by something on her little magic box; totally unaware of the world. When did people become so mindless, when did a cigarette become a means to escape, a means to forget, to pass time when time drawls on listlessly. I thought smoking was glamorous, something only the really rich enjoyed between gossip and cups of cafe au lait.

Continue reading “The Bored (Photography)”

For Peter, My Ghost (Poetry)

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Peter old friend

we are only human

we are made of dust

from Adam’s soil: ashes

creatures of chance

unable to cope

unable to see

blind to the world

and the bridges put forth before us,

we are damned

to suffer, one way or another

to rest everlasting, to end.

But we are glorious

even when we come undone

and the world will always remember

the songs we wrote

for Alice, for Emma

for women we do not even know

–Words by Teegee Villanueva

First Night

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I stare at my reflection

in the mirror that you gave me

I cannot forget when you were last inside me

stuck, immobile–

your love was a curse .

 

And I cannot forget the first night

we spent together–you and me, in the room

in the space we called our home

when you said goodnight

when I gave good head and meant it–

but your youth always alarmed me.

 

You remind me of my father, a liar

lies all lies, until the angels took his life

his tongue, an instrument

to please a missus who wasn’t his wife;

like my father, you broke my heart

and like my father, I forgave you

but like my mother, I will always remember

the lie you said in September.

–Anthony, 2016