Forever Home




I have not found the place,
Where you and I can finally be at peace.

The one with the white picket fence,
The dog, the cat, and the kids: two-point-three.
The one you dreamed of when you met me.

The one I might have promised mistakenly
Thinking that I could provide.
A place where I could take my last breath.

The one with the plot, with the hill,
With the tree, with the hole beneath,
Where I could stay forever.

© J. Manuel


Unforced Errors


Unforced Errors

Self-inflicted wounds are the worst kind
when you know the hands of your attacker
will fail yet again
to handle the moment of truth,
to record the last out,
to stop that slow dribbler
coming up the first-base line;

A freight train
on the express lane
rumbling down the tracks.

Your feet staked.
You can’t make way.
Forced to stand your ground.
Frozen in looped replay
to watch the moment pass you by
when taking a knee would’ve seized it.

Never to realize
that you can’t buck the system
and its perfectly imperfect code.

© J. Manuel


The Merge

You and I

Walk a darkened road; shadeless,

Dimly lit by a street lamp,

That we have yet to reach.

You from that side, along the wall.

Me from this, along the curb.

You on the right.

Me on the left.


I anticipate

Your fear

With mine.

The one that knots my guts,

And lumps my throat,

And sweats my palms.

The one that you and I have almost always known.


Your father warned you about:

The thief, the murderer, the rapist.

My father warned me about:

The cheat, the liar, the oppressor.


We merge under the light.

You sidestep toward the wall.

I to the street.


My father said never to corner a wounded animal,

And we are the most dangerous kind.


© J. Manuel






He appears before me;

Cloaked in aubergine.

Meters of spun cloth;

Cut, creased, and tapered;

To say forked things.


A diatribe in soliloquy;

Sounds all the more convincing.


I once stood as he;

Bespoke, bold, beautiful,

Undeterred by truth,

And followed him confidently;

To salvation, to perdition;

Happier either way;

Than where I stand.


Stripped, shrinking, ugly,

Marred by knowing;

That the tailor’s marks are temporary;

That the cloth will be unfit;

That I could never afford,

But borrowed things.

That I am ill-suited;

For his desires;

For his promises.


For his words;

They offer all,

And nothing.


(c) J. Manuel