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P.K. Benbow

Here I give you “El Amigo.”

A year ago I returned to New York with a bunch of commissions lined up for the first time, only to find that due to the loss of his brother, my boyfriend at the time had to put a hold on our plans of getting a place together.

I had nowhere to go, and I couldn’t afford a place to live on my own. But I’m fortunate to have a friend like Jaime, who put a roof over my head with no hesitation. He gave me a place to sleep at night while I borrowed studio space during the day to work on my commissions.

Then in October when the lease on my sublet ended, I moved in with him again for the last month of his lease so that we could find a place together in November. But right when I did, business suddenly slowed dramatically.

On top of worrying about how I would afford my half of the deposit, some days I didn’t even have enough to feed myself. I was often too ashamed to even tell him because of everything he had already done for me. But Jaime is the kind of friend that would ask me if I had eaten that day, and made sure I did if I hadn’t.

I created my reference design for this image based on a photo I took of him the first time I stayed with him. We went up to his roof to smoke a cigarette but it was too cold and snowing outside. So we sat in the stairwell and he cracked the door behind him to let the smoke out.

Hidden under the charcoal of this image is a poem I wrote, inspired by his friendship. It’s titled, “Angels of Men.”

Angels are not men who fly,
They’re men who cry and men who die.
Angels do not dress in white,
They don’t have wings and don’t take flight.

Angels are by mortal hands,
Buried deep beneath our sands.
Angels—like a desert root—
In times of drought bare cactus fruit.

Angels—like a leaf of gold—
In rivers dry our dreams they hold.
Angels serve no wealthy gods,
But only men with bitter odds.

Angels’ wings have never grown,
Of breaking skin on backs their own.
For Angels plant their wings like seed,
Inside the backs of men they’ve freed.

5 yrs ago

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