there is a mug i posses that's
chipped and white and very plain,
but it reminds me of the way
a young artist draws a cup.

there is this brand of fish i buy
from the aldi just shy of tinley,
and it's always freezer burnt but
with butter and lemon and tea it
tastes like a delicacy.

there is an ache within my stomach
that ignores my effort to quell it;
sometimes, it calms with heat and
reminds me of feverish nights
spent beneath a madonna's gaze.

my mother did laundry most days,
and her tired hands left tired lines
like the ones beneath her eyes, and
the clothes i wore were always wrinkled
but i fold mine the same.

i own a shirt that belonged to
a man who once stripped it from
my body and taught me i was nothing,
but it's soft to wear to bed and smells
of unscented detergent.

there was a boy named mirsad
who told me stories i never wanted
to hear, but when i hear his name
i think of stars and baths and light;
he smiled wry and spoke of God
like He was a man—

and i knew a dog named gabriel,
a golden-furred beast, whose scarred
face and scared eyes spoke of love and
loyalty, and he bit papi once because papi
could never hold his temper,

but i tap my fingers on an old
granite counter that the last owners
bought to pay off the landlord for other
damage done, and i think it's strangely
beautiful, symmetrical,

and cold, this mottled pattern.