Riley Lopez: Silk Omens
Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Hazel Lilting


I.                    On Fourteenth Street


No one knows what hazel is. It’s just a word we use to describe eyes that don’t lend themselves to description. So, I don’t have much to say about your eyes, I guess, except that I’m thankful for the way they look at me, just after you laugh. They leave me helpless, melting in your honeyed amber. Nor do I have much to say about your

hazel lilting into my life, except that you’re welcome to stay for as long as you’d like.


And if you go, I’ll leave the light on.


II.                  On Central Park West


Your lilting stumbled somehow. Those  kisses were silk omens. Your thumbs

traced circles on my upturned palms, as we cabbed downtown on a midwinter day that was not unlike a coming up for air. But now, these hands show only sweat-blurred words. I’ll collect what’s left of that amber ink and anoint my lips with

its written, but unread silence. Where hope and your honey linger, I will not dwell.


We all endure our own private wiltings.


III.              On Greene Street, But Thinking of First Avenue


You entered again and my resolve broke form.

I kicked some sand over what makes you unholy.

These small reprisals pull me by my bottom lip

toward how tightly your arms locked around me,

toward how surely your kisses hit my neck, my chest,

toward how we all infer intent from action,

toward how we sometimes get it wrong,

toward the honey,       the lilting,        the pulsing suggestion of you.


My eyes rise to yours.             That amber tugs at me            again,              


but now I know to slouch away.


I know             rose trees don’t grow here.               


And still, I’m not quite sure what hazel is.

pulling punches


navy webs of evening drape over

his shoulders and his hooded violet eyes.

dreamy and desired, he can’t quite sate

his lust for       this private dusk.

he cries and screams and         

does not listen and

hits the trunks of bowing willow trees

with clenched fists,

shredding the thin skin of his knuckles,

nails leaving red crescent stigmatas on palms.

he relents         when his eyes stumble upon mine.

my unbidden blues clash with his livid violets.

twiddling his thumbs, he asks for my name.

in response, I tell him that he’s safe.

and I see his bloodied hands,

but I don’t ask how he bloodied them.

scoffing, he wanders off and

goes on throwing blows at those poor willows.

but more softly now,   with less violence.

I tried to make it easy for you


a layer of sugar coated my lips.

who put it there, I couldn’t say.

it tasted like bitterness and berries.


and the bouquet of daisies I bought,

for you to give to me as an apology,

is left idle and wilting

on the front seat of your car.

Riley Lopez was born in Maryland to a Cuban-Irish household, but now lives, writes, and learns in New York City. His poetry has previously been published in Impossible Archetype: A Journal of LGBTQ+ Poetry.