If you’ve ever read The Game by Neil Strauss
you know the definition of a neg–hidden insult
wrapped in such pretty paper
you don’t know if you should smile or
walk away from the person who gave it.
A trick used by pick-up artists to gain and maintain
the attention of women who possess uncommon beauty.
My little brother is handsome and
a master without reading the guide.
We will need to guard him and
keep him close, so excited is he
to find a girl to keep close
he’ll take the first thing
that falls for a silly joke
and lose himself.
What, I can’t give you a compliment…?
I raise my eyebrow because clearly
he is filled to the brim with sarcasm.
I know him well enough
to not wonder if he lies.
I LIKE your flower!
I ask him if he’s serious.
It brings out your… hair.
And then it all comes out, bodies shake,
white teeth all around the room and torsos
bent like an earthquake knocked us off our feet.
Our mom says Son, you need a lot more practice,
and he takes it as success and dances
like he never would outside the house.
He likes to play it cool,
doesn’t smile in strange company,
speaks softly, uses as few words
as it takes to convey his message
if he just learned your name today
or yesterday or last week.
And then he is home, or we are alone,
and he teaches us how to stretch our faces
and workout our abs and laugh so hard
our eyes look like we drank a cup of Sriracha
and our mouths are wild and wet like rabid dogs.
I’m having a son and naming him Jaquez.
It’s French, pronounced Jaque–
but I’m black, so it’s Jaquez.
I hope our laughter will be enough
for a little while longer.