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Frankie Soto

If a song could kill us

I hope I dance better than I forgive.

If my pulse was a beat, let the DJ

turn      that      shit       up,

until there was nothing left to play.

Papi is a title. I am the inheritance of a name

passed down. Gave up any right to the throne.

I rule different.

I am not canon,

I want  ​abandon​ to be the one word my son always gets incorrect  on his vocabulary test.

I spell different.

I am not a bomb.

Ears don’t need to practice how to duck.

Proud will not be a dish served cold.

I love different

I am not a weapon.

I fear my voice when it becomes a chainsaw and every 

mirror is a reminder that sons are natural ventriloquist 

dolls cutting the strings before

we cut down the things we love.

My voice carries luggage I didn’t pack.

I am learning to unload before I board.  It is not easy to 

travel where the heart

has no map.

I sang bass in choir all four years of high school.

Familiarity is a hurt we tend to keep close.

My boy is a tenor I am trying to harmonize with.

Silence and Masculinity both cut deeply,

a double edged sword. Notes are not created equal.

Many of us will die from what is buried deep inside 

before death is ever loaded into the

chamber. I am not a gun.

My voice cracks when I attempt to be a soprano but

I don’t need to carry a pitch anymore.

I don’t need to be the best pitcher anymore. I don’t need 

to drink this whole pitcher anymore for proud to be a 

meal at my table.

I feed different.

I am not a name.

Familiarity is a hurt we can’t stop humming to until we 

fall into love

with a new melody.

If a song could kill.

I would keep my hands visible.

Keep them up like I was raising the roof.

Hold them still

                                as if the sun wasn’t heavy to hold.

Hold them still

       as if son wasn’t too heavy to hold

on to.

If a song could kill.

I’d roll down the windows, singing the chorus at the top 

of my lungs. Not afraid to let old tracks finish. Not 

afraid to listen to what’s going to play next.

To all the boys who stutter

Before you knock  know if

               love is a flame, 

she is a fire that cannot be contained. 

When I open the door, 

I won’t ask your name or how you know her,  or allow you to                                                        

                                         deliver a script  you rehearsed the

                                                whole way here. 

I will only ask one question. 

                                    “What does man mean to you?”

This is not a trick. 

There is no right answer but there is a galaxy of wrong ones. 

If your tongue goes numb and the words don’t form quick enough to reply, 

                                                               I will wait at this door step with you, but,  

                                                              you will not be granted entry inside.

You may forget we are a constellation of stars, 

believe it is common to just fill the space  with

rules on how we must behave. 

Gender comes with a playbook that isn’t properly written. 

I am not naïve 

I know there are many sons who know papi likes 

                                     his corona with limón and 

                                     his women submissive and quiet so

I will give you a minute to answer my question. 

I know these are lessons that may not have been  part

of the curriculum under your roof but in this home 

                                                             she has no ceiling. 

She is a love letter with no envelope,

             know that my ears are a forest and her trail always        

             leads to my heart

             my throat is trained to howl, 

             and I know exactly how wolves hunt.

            Understand she will not be the prey you feast upon, 

            she will be the fulfillment you pray for. 

You may have heard stories that men are the spinners of 

                                                                                                      this axis, 

                                                                                                      but here

                                                                                                      she's never had to

ask permission to move this globe

I am not asking you to be a Hercules. 

I am asking you to know the God in you 

                                                                 does not want you to be a God. 

If these bodegas could talk

I saw death at the corner of the block, standing impatient like she was waiting at the

bus stop, Like she was

waiting for a  heart to stop,

like she was tired of


of feeling like flesh and indecision.

I carried a question on my face, my

aunt once told me you can’t fake a

smile to anyone who is really

paying attention.

I walked over in my loose Tim’s, the

Northface with the hoodie fur.

Her eyes began rolling back, cheeks

sucked in like she was eating a sour

patch candy. Letting it be known

she ain’t the type

for the catcalls.

Hey Ma how you doing​ wasn’t my

language of choice anyways, so she listened.

I asked her why is everyone so afraid

of you?

She shrugged her shoulders like they were a purse

carrying something too heavy to hold

Told me I have no clue but if I’m being

honest you should be more scared of


People lose more time waiting for life

to happen

Than I ever do taking it away.

Frankie A Soto is an author and poet by way of New York. The New York Times has called him an absolute force. He is the 2019 winner of the Multicultural Poet of the year award from the National Spoken Word Poetry Awards and now a 2x winner (2019, 2016)

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