Frankie A. Soto

the closets we keep

my son pulled the plug out of the socket. i reacted.
my voice became a switch. i could feel my empty
tonsils rattling like belt buckles hanging on
the inside of a closet. a closet i trained to keep closed
as much as possible.

i have no closets in my current apartment but i do 
have this throat that hangs baggage in the dark. 
it acts like a closet. my son is two years old & repeats
everything that comes out of this closet. i’m not

burying skeletons here. i’ve tried that & these 
bones are a prideful bunch of horror villains. they don’t
accept dying as an option. 

my son reached for the outlet. fruit punch dripping off 
his chin & cheese puff residue on his tiny fingers. i let out
a roar that made this closet purr, tongue clapping the roof 
of this mouth incessantly.

i watched his back curl in surrender,
bend & slither, become a snake following the notes of a flute.
this closet is an instrument playing the wrong song.
there is no rhythm here that i want to dance to. 

i asked my son to stand up. i didn’t demand it.
i said i love you, i’m sorry.
slowly & melodic. holding out each syllable so
he can memorize it. so he can know that forgiveness
is not a choking hazard. 

i found the boy again in my voice. held his hand out.
called my throat a throat again & plugged the socket back into 
the outlet.


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Frankie A. Soto is a 2x winner of the Multicultural Poet of the year award from the National Spoken Word Poetry Awards in Chicago. The New York Times called his performance an absolute force. He’s been featured on ABC news and has traveled all across the country featuring at universities, colleges & high schools touring/performing and running workshops. His manuscript Petrichor was a semi-finalist for the 2021 Hudson Prize with Black Lawrence Press & was a finalist for the Sexton Prize with Black Spring Press in London.