After “Dear Arecelus” by Patrick Royal

I wish I had thought of stealing literary fruit
from dead writers’ houses, like plums, and slurping
at its meat and sweetness to expose their pits;
instead, I spend an hour at Carousel Bar
in New Orleans nursing one glass
with ghosts while sweating my $18 purchase,
not because I can’t afford it but because at one time,
I couldn’t and don’t feel comfortable now,
not my Sazerac or with how all the ghosts I can see are White,
like the writers listed as having slept here. With my face red
and Asian-aglow, I want to match the cacophony of bartalk
with temple-clearing and table-turning shouts of
“Do you know who tread here?!
Do you know who couldn’t?
Read the books, damnit!”
But I forget that Hemingway asked for a clean, well-lighted place
not a quiet one, and the orange peel in my drink adds scent,
the sugar masks the burn.
Unlike plums, dark and tender, alcohol has little substance
to sink into, quite the opposite, really, like mythmaking:
fleeting and empty.

Christian Hanz Lozada (he/him) is the son of an immigrant Filipino and a descendent of the Southern Confederacy. He knows the shape of hope and exclusion. He authored the poetry collection He’s a Color, Until He’s Not (2023) and co-authored Leave with More Than You Came With (2019). His poems have appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review (Pushcart Nominee), Bamboo Ridge Press, 34 Orchard, Mud Season Review, among others. Christian has featured at the Autry Museum and Beyond Baroque. He lives in San Pedro, CA and uses his MFA to teach his neighbors and their kids at Los Angeles Harbor College.