Haibun for the dust of it All – Mateo Lara
“the past comes toward us”
They tell me I’m too sexual to be friends with. I’m not anyone’s cup of tea, so I usually mingle
with myself most of the time. I’m dreaming of mud on my body and needles through my skin and
free-falling. I check out dream journals and what all of these things could mean, but I keep getting
the same results of anxiety and heavy emotions and things I have yet to deal with. What’s worse
than bottled-up? Explosion.
I was arrested for public intoxication when I moved to Virginia. The blue-eyed cop was dazzling
and racist, I was drunk, but I remember my back being dry, but hearing him say wet-back like it
would trigger a bigger response out of me than I already was responding. I called the magistrate
racist for letting him talk to me that way. She just smirked and told me I was sad. What’s sadder
than a brown boy in handcuffs? A white one.
I am not religious, but sometimes in a dark room lying on my back and a white-wall with nothing
on it, I pray. I sit there and talk to a God that I barely believe in. I grew up Catholic and my
grandmother would be so proud. Archangel Olga Manansala, Saint of the Headache and Queen of
Financial Budgeting. I’ve only known men who bite. Take chunks from the body and leave little
holes that collect dust when I breathe.
I’m mostly afraid of death when it concerns the people I love most. What emptiness looks like
after someone is no longer here. When my grandpa died I got my first taste. If I think about it too
much or prolongingly, I cannot stop crying, so I plug it up. Let it collect particles and be left alone.
This deserves a monument of safety and calm, I started a GoFundMe page to help pay rent, but I
feel useless and pride guts me, for needing help. I don’t want to disappoint the world in being a
cliché, broke poet of color who is queer and likes dick and it’s bad for him.
Queer (adj.) strange—(n.)—me.
I gather memories that pile up and so when I dream, everything feels real when I wake up. Like I
was battered in a mall or I died and my hell was a flight that never ended or being up in a high-
rise with boys with big dicks and the capability of loving no one.
In my dreams, Florida had mountains and the swamps had hippos, and I was afraid of the darkness
in the water, and it snowed and I was someone better than I am when I’m awake.
this is just the start
I’m no one here & nameless
convince me of truth.
When I begin to think about bones and the slick-shininess of them and when you saw into their
tissues, how the little pieces look powdery and dusty. Those are memories, each muscle, each bone
that walked here or walked there or whatever, the story behind the use.
I think about what my bones would say or tell someone when they examine them—how I lost my
virginity in the backseat of a car or I used to be afraid of the dark and when I went to a sleepaway
camp for a summer in 4th grade how deathly terrified I was. How I thought about slicing myself
open and bleeding out almost every day before I started seeing a therapist, how all the times I
almost broke my leg were because of other boys not queer being too rough with me. I think about
the way I wanted to die—tried to jump down an apartment balcony in Ireland and the Airbnb host
shared her bread with me. I can’t escape that night in Croatia in which I fell down stairs trying to
help a drunk girl away from these dirty men trying to fuck her.
All the scars and bruises on my skin, do they seep into my bone, do they whisper what they’ve
What are you good for if just
This aching and dust?