The Little Lives We Cannot See by Jhon Valdes Klinger

CW for sexually graphic language

1. Please don’t take forever to cum after I’ve cum, because I will not pull tricks for your satisfaction. I haven’t cum inside you because I can’t–– meaning because I don’t want to— and I have excuses to prove it. The most that I’ll do is maybe look at your prick, wondering if my hands are big or you’re tiny, and remembering how much fun I made of Trump’s hands when he got elected. Occasionally I’ll moan because the position of your calf on my lower back raises my vertigo–– I quite honestly don’t even know where I am. Still, the waves in the close distance of my shuttering eyes made my hands into midgets and your prick giant to the touch. Your hair stinks. 

2. Two minutes ago, your hair didn’t stink, but then I came.

3. Everything stunk of rotten negro after sex, but it was great to pull your straight hair. It reminded me of the fun of cotton field picking while being whipped on a plantation; So much fun! I am just waiting for you to get off

4. me. I like to look at you just as you’re about to bust so I can identify every location on the sheet where you made a mess. I think of the whiteness of the 340 thread count Egyptian cotton blend and the yellow landing your cumswamp will make when it dries. From above, I’ll stare at the fibers like a helicopter flying over the plantation fields, worried by the harmed specks of life that have survived. I’ll say a prayer for the little lives that we cannot see, wondering if there were helicopters before the civil rights movement. I should have made the chopper part of my escape plan. However, where could I have escaped?

5. You’ll look at me, perplexed, like you lost me to the blend again.

6. CUBA! I’ll fly to Cuba, but I am unsure if Fidel would have been there by then or if communism was even born yet. I’ll look at you in a way to make you feel guilty for the stains of your colonization. Your whiteness never washed off my dark skin or off this penurious sheet that would be stained forever. You’ll argue that you don’t see the stain. At least the maid that always smiled at us will know we “fucked,” or that we’re fucked—as we walk by— she’ll smirk because her scrubbing was worth something— the abomination in each drop unbeknownst to her. We would be each other’s maids in Cuba, but I would be the maid with two master’s
degrees,                   and no one                   could take that                                     away
from me.

7. I tried hard not to complain about the morning because I knew that my breath was worse than yours. After all, you bothered to brush your teeth out of respect or consideration for yourself. Respect and consideration for myself are more foreign than Puerto Vallarta, where we were, which wasn’t foreign to me because white tourists had overtaken it just like America. The effects of colonization had rendered me invisible, and therefore, a threat.

8. I stopped caring for myself the night before after I’d eaten the third chocolate cookie around bedtime. My breath reeked of it during our morning encounter. I fell asleep on your hairy chest, wondering how at 25, you had more white hairs on your chest than me at almost forty.

9. I laughed as you asked what’s so funny. I responded, “you’re fucked,” holding on to your hands for dear life.

10. You whispered something that sounded like, “I _____ you.” I said, “I loathe you too,” under the stink of my breath. The worst thing was that I did love you and consequently it means that you are the person I loathed the most. At nearly four months of dating, which is forever for me, it must mean I am capable of love.


Jhon Valdes Klinger is a Colombian-born, New York City-raised bilingual writer and educator. He earned a Master of Fine Arts from The New School’s Creative Writing Program. His work has been published in The Acentos Review, Ipstori App, 12th Street Journal, and Monsters of the Bronx. As an UrbanWordNYC teaching-artist, he collaborated with student poets across New York City to infuse high schools with critical literacy. He relocated to Berkeley, California, where he teaches secondary English Language Arts.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.