Carlos Andrés Gómez


La Mano de Dios (For Diego Maradona)

When I was 8
we stopped going
to church

my sister and I
tired of the shame
Sunday school demanded
of us, our parents conflicting
beliefs like a cluttered maze
of unkempt woods behind
our house

the riddles of religion
never solved themselves,
remained more taunt than
gift as I turned every cryptic page

but you, Diego, you gave me faith

in the redeeming value of my defiance,

the miracle well of the body I was given,
and the conflicted beauty of this living

as you went the length of the field, converting
defenders into broken balance beams you would
tip toe over as they cracked, all of them lying
facedown in the mud splotched field

the perfect lob in the upper right hand
corner of the goal, all 5 feet 5 inches
of you, pumping your right hand in the
air like a challenge to the heavens
that threw you back

the same fist that punched in the game
winner in the World Cup, the British dynasty
doubled over, like a favela
stabbed it in its gut

you were supposed to be a quiet, poor kid
with no inspiration and no fight,
begging in that same t-shirt you wore
in Villa Fiorito

but you and I have that same chest,
a proud mad man enclosed in its gates,
spitting back in the world's greedy face

Fidel tattooed on your left leg,
Che on your right arm,
your middle finger up at Bush
and the United States
like a proud flag

I will never stop being
a fierce patriot to who you are, Diego,
because you taught me how to cherish
what I got

and hepatitis, cocaine, obesity, or alcohol
can't ever mute your greatness

no matter how much weight you gain,
or relapses you go through

I will always remember you
as you were –

your hair like a superhero's cape,
those super tiny shorts made footnote
by your javelin-winged feet, an infantry of
baby blue and white stripes trying to contain
your heart

embarrassing fools, who thought you were
only playing fútbol, as if entire worlds of us
who lived our lives as loners

didn't fall asleep each night
on your shoulders

to dream.


Carlos Andrés Gómez, an award-winning poet and actor

from New York City, appears on the 6th season of HBO's "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry" and co-stars in

Spike Lee's #1 box office smash hit film "INSIDE MAN."  As a writer, his work has been published widely in

anthologies and periodicals, including Rattle: Poetry

for the 21st Century (Scarecrow/Whitston, 2007), High Desert Voices (Wordsmith Press, 2006), Mosaic, Timeout New York, AWOL Magazine, Speakeasy Anthology (University of Pennsylvania , 2002), Elemental Magazine, and The New York Times


1 Poem