John Manuel Arias

John Manuel Arias is a gay, first generation Costa Rican/Uruguayan poet and crepe-maker raised in a DC ghetto when it was the murder capital. His poems have appeared in the James Franco Review, Rogue Agent Journal, Red Paint Hill, the After Happy Hour Review and others. His debut collection of poetry, “¡I’D RATHER SINK–!” is forthcoming from Red Paint Hill Publishing. He currently lives in San José, Costa Rica with his grandmother and four ghosts.





right before you come / you’ll
have your ass plugged / your
teeth sharpened / just in case
XXXXbecause / you’re never sure
who’s going to be harsher / the
ones who you tried to love
or the ones who never
loved you back


regardless / they’ll file in / grab
little tickets so they can
testify / giddily await Anubis to
call out their numbers / mean-
while / they’ll lick your ear-
drums to taste their own names
fuck you up the ass till it
bleeds / (some of them were
really into that ) / try
hysterically to forget the
weight of a chest without a
XXXXXXheart inside still beating
but most will just tell the truth
and Thoth will get it all down
on his stenograph / so you can
live through itXXXX all over again
XXXXwhen they’re done


you’ll pick some of your
# 12 / uses too much teeth
# 18 / doesn’t use enough
# 26 / left an ‘I love you’ note
inside my husband’s wallet
# 33 / doesn’t play well
# 39 / didn’t let me choke him
# 39 (again) / threw up when
# 77 / kissed me like
XXXXhe meant it
#88 / acts just like his mother
# 125 / smiled too wide
XXXXwhen I fucked him
# 150 / opened too wide
XXXXwhen I fucked him / (there
wasn’t any traction / ¿you
know what I mean?)


Osiris will be your judge / he’ll
be the color of the vomit # 39
kissed from your face / he’ll
sigh / ask / ¿how do you plead?
XXXXXXXXXwill wonder if
you enjoyed the commentary
personally he’ll find it
riveting / like a Tennessee
Williams play / he’ll say
XXXXXyou didn’t even need
XXXElizabeth Taylor to costar


you’ll agree / plead the fifth
the fifth doesn’t
work down here
XXXXXXXXoh / ¿are you sure?
yes / child / I’m sure


before the verdict / he’ll call
you up to his bench / tear away
his leather robe / stroke himself
his eyes rolled so far back / he
forgets you ’re even there
then he’ll convince you to help
him get off / (and don’t
you dare bite down on me / fag-
got) / it’ll be to make you think
it might help / but of course / it
won’t / because afterwards / as
you gargle his milk / his bitter
XXXhoney / he’ll sentence you to
something you won’t even hear
over the exaggerated gasps


the ones still there will be
ecstatic / they’ll play
rock / paper / scissors / to see
who will take home your
spleen / your prefrontal cortex
your ass / because that’s all
they really wanted anyway


when the auction’s over / and
they’ve made off with the few
parts of you wanted / Ammit
will lick her lips / sharpen her
surprisingly gentle nails
meaning it’s time to
steal your heart
XXXXfrom its cage
but you’ll say you can do it
yourself / because you’re the
one who gets yourself into
these messes / and you’re used
XXXXto cleaning them up by now

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