Elvis Alves







Perfect Date


You ask me about my

perfect date.

How it would look?

I say that it would take place in a country other

than our own; a city to be exact.

Preferably at the setting of

the sun.

I picture us holding hands,

strolling along the emptying marketplace

of Paris or Abidjan.




Ota Benga: Therapy


America had become a cage to him, and he longed to be free once more.

–Frederick Drimmer on Ota Benga

African man trapped in a cage and put on display at the Bronx Zoo.

Tell me what you see?


I see them but they do not see me. Otherwise,

I would not be in captivity.


You are witnessing the presence of ignorance;

the demise of civility.


Indeed, I am witness to these and it is

killing me. Plus there is insanity. I want to be free.


African man trapped in a cage and put on display

at the Bronx Zoo, you speak so lucidly. Tell me

more about the gaze and what it is that you see?


I see humanity staring back at me. And calamity in

the wake of rapid destructive entities: capitalism,

war, and poverty.


Where is the escape, there must be a way out

of this misery? African man trapped in a cage,

answer me.


Put a man in a hole that he did not dig

and he is bound to explode violently.


You sound angry; Tell me how

you feel?


I see that you are the therapist extraordinaire.

Do you want to psychoanalyze me? Well, write

that I am from a land far from here. Survival is a must,

at any cost it is necessary. Kings rule with iron fists

and experience great kicks in turning tricks.


Wait…Wait. You are describing a fantasy.

No…No. It is my reality. Don’t think that my mind

is gone just because my life is void of tomorrows. I never had to run

from a gun until I was captured by one.


I was running from those who were after me—to enslave me.

I was running to my wife and children, trying to save them

from the fate that became me.


What is the fate you talk about?

Can’t you see? I am trapped in a cage and my

humanity is no longer part of me.

Psychoanalyze me. Tell the world how I used

to be.


I will tell that you came from a land far from here.

That kings rule with iron fists and get kicks from

turning tricks. And that you never had to run from a gun

until you saw me.




Frustration on Board


I entertain myself by beating

my left big toe with the reed of

the hibiscus flower plant until it

becomes purple like the teeth of the

old man who forgot what it was he

chewed just seconds ago.


I laugh twice and then cry two more

days because sorrow seems

forever on my path especially when it

rains ashen candlesticks from a sky one

inch above my head.


There is no touching like two virgins

married and one suddenly dies before

the consummation of the bond,


too much excitement for him.


And the victim must be a he because

only a man gets excited about sex.


It is a chore for a woman

and sometimes she does not want

to take part in it because there are

too many other chores in her life.


So I continue to beat my left big

toe purple and I am excited.













Elvis Alves is the author of the poetry collection Bitter Melon and the chapbook Ota Benga. He was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. His poetry has appeared in several journals and magazines. He lives and teaches in Newtown, PA, USA. 


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