antmen pimentel mendoza

A Hookup Explains His Planned Ouroboros Tattoo as I Contemplate Deleting All Photos of My Ex from My Phone

          Look at the engine.
          Tell me the names you will use
          for every fire there:

                                 disgust—[Portrait in a large
mall in Manila, smiling in a food court] I
could not bear the vinegar, distilled, white,
could not stomach the lake bubbling at the
vents from their place in history, history
being a body of water unfathomable,
spanning ancient land masses for a crown.

                                 want—[Mounting me, in a
mirror] I no longer seek who isn’t seeking me
but there’s no accounting for the lonely
decades, ribless years I spent yearning and I
thought this ghoul might be the stopper large
enough for the wide mouth it never occurred to me to close even on the driest of days.

                                 thirst—[On a picnic blanket
in Tilden, under the sun our temples brushed
lightly against one another] I can’t write
about anything but the spit anymore, but the
christblood stains lifting from the floors of
my tongue by a new brew, and though I
imagined my first kiss after the ghoulish man
would sicken me, might be milkfish on an
unknowing palate, I couldn’t stop asking the
man to pour his spit into me.

                                 sweetness—[Our pitbull in
lap, on a bench, above the bay] I ask, but what
of the rot? what of the saccharine profane?
what of the animals dangling bioluminescent
appendages to lure? to lull?

                                 geography—[Smoking a
joint, on the rocky shore of the Yuba River]
I jest about physical limitations, list
activities that are not in my blood like ice
skating, field hockey, living away from the
ocean, and I hope my ancestors have a sense
of humor, want me to remove all limits.

                                traditions—[Pissing cock out
in the mirror of a Seattle rental] I cannot
account for the saints I ask for by name, the
beads I count, every curve of heat I call god
under my breath.                        

                                 curiosity—[Portrait in a
basement bedroom, in a wig] I say: what a
gentle name, what a soft practice, what

                                 gratitude—[At a basilica,
gilded] each of my classmates and I were
shown  a   square                       of  tape  on the
carpet,      the teac                        her instructing
us to  use  our im                     agination:      it
was the   baptism                       al font, the acts
of  pageantry  ne              ed       our    
careful practice and around the font, we learn
that rehearsal is the Catholic way.            

                                 habit—[Screenshots  of  a
profile] if I split the fibers enough times, if I
thin the stalks, if we are endless, as promised,
then when is the last of you?                


                           The anger is syntaxed
just above my right hip, logic-bound

into a discrete shape—I extract
like the hair I pull from the drain, like

the repeated ingestion of my own tail, like
telling his friends I’m single

again, like I was always someone tender
enough. I finger bundles of greens

at Berkeley Bowl, imagine what woman
I am when eating each: virgin

with the escarole, menace with the ong choy,
queen with the chard. Woman is a word,

a woman is a bond I can’t begin,
let alone keep. I’m freckled today,

feckless in my hunger for a lox bagel, for a nicer
apartment, for someone hard and raring to go.

Photo by Paul Goudarzi-Fry

antmen pimentel mendoza (they, he, she) is the author of the chapbook MY BOYFRIEND APOCALYPSE (Nomadic Press, 2023; reprinted by Black Lawrence Press). antmen writes, works at the Multicultural Community Center at UC Berkeley, and studies at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. antmen’s poetry is published in Underblong, Peach Mag, Split Lip and anthologized in Best New Poets 2023. antmen lives in Oakland and is online as @antmenismagic and at