Gabriel Ramirez

making a spectacle of the messiah

5 doctors sit to evaluate my brother Jon,
to see if he can be released from the psych ward.

“how are you?”

Jon says well. says breakfast. cocked neck,
face implying he tasted crushed pills
in his scrambled eggs. he’d chuckle
at the powder residue on his fork.
a man who laughs at poison knows
he won’t be dying soon.

“are you nervous?”

Jon says no while tapping his foot.
he wants to stomp the snakes
creeping toward him but doesn’t
want to alert the doctors.
they already know he hears hissing
choirs. slimy wingless angels biting
their toxins into his faith. my brother
prayed himself antivenom, could thrust
fangs further into himself. the doctors
would call this a suicide attempt
when he’d be showing how full of life he is.

“what do you think of our facility?”

Jon doesn’t speak at first. wonders if
there’s a cross waiting to be carried
or if one of the doctors needs to be
baptized. Jon says he helps the patients
more than the staff. says the staff
are like family members who wish
they weren’t there. says they’re always
in the way. Jon’s heart is full
of interrupted prayers. half a heaven
coursing through his body & people
want to call my brother crazy.

“have you had any delusions?”

Jon shrugs. says nothing about the seraphim
surrounding the chandelier. doesn’t say
he can feel his brain cracking. he is one
of god’s knuckles. one of god’s works
in progress. he knows assembling
his fingers into vises would only bring
about the hunt. he settles down before
making a spectacle of the messiah
in him. he can’t stop his hands and feet
from bleeding but will bare the sin

of one last doctor asking: “what do you mean?”

Jon shakes his head. he doesn’t want the doctors
to know he could dispel demons with a cocked neck.
how he could nail himself to a cross, call it practice.
they say my brother is unhinged; a cathedral
of teeth. one step away from driving his fist down
someone’s throat. they want to see Jon make a home
of the cage he was thrown in. they know nothing
of holding thorns till their palms become sponges
soaked in their savior’s blood. all they know
of my brother: beth israel medical center,
11th floor, psych ward, abilify, ativan, clozaril,
Jon Ramirez.

Gabriel RamirezGabriel Ramirez is a Afro-Latino poet, activist, and teaching artist. Gabriel is a mentor at Urban Word NYC and has received fellowships from The Watering Hole and Callaloo. Gabriel has performed on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre, United Nations, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre and other venues & universities around the nation. Gabriel was featured in Huffington Post, Vibe Magazine, Blavity, Upworthy, The Flama and at a TEDxYouth Conference. You can find his work in various spaces, including Youtube, and in publications like The Volta, Jasper, and forthcoming in The Offing, and Afro-Latino Poetry Anthology (Arte Público Press 2016).


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