Talking to William Blake

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You are closer to me than skin on muscle.
Manual labor defined your life (and art)
as much as my own father’s, a furniture maker
who died a centenarian with hands mangled
to piety by hammer, chisel, and shears, a lifetime
of coaxing wood and cloth to practical beauty,
while yours burned metal to apocalypse as you incised
from left to right with speed and exactness
because God doesn’t wait, coddle, forgive error.
How well you understood that creation is more
physical than mental, that beauty must exact
injury from the body if devotion is selfless and true.
How aqua fortis not prayer washes our sins away,
that only the burin of impieties can scar copper
to holiness or scarlet reds imbue blood’s fellowship.
You conversed with angels, argued with demons.
I am content to mumble to ghosts that don’t reply,
You see your dead kin everywhere, fat, happy,
luminous as they sing their stillwater hymns. Mine hide
away in stone houses beneath the diasporic sea.
You have been my guide, my Virgil of the Thames,
ever since I learned to recite your poems by heart
wandering Miami’s streets at night when it’s cool
and the dew blesses asphalt to blackest cobalt. I am
the Catholic convert to your gospels etched with acid
of the Holy Ghost. I am the Cuban boy with a PhD,
a menagerie of amulets, a virus that burrows in
my spine. I have known the squalor of the plantain,
manioc’s madness, the virulence of tropical weeds
that choke the waterways of free thought, but I dive
into them unwavering, unashamed, stubborn as you.