Monday, August 31, 2015

Castilleja


photo by sbwildflowers


You are the fire on the prairie,
the indian paintbrush,
the flower I consume,
                 but only just enough.


       ~~~


I pick seeds of roadside wildflowers
from the dust on my jeans
                                    & plant them in the neglected,
dry pots
around the office, on bedside tables
                                     & barren gardens;
a floral terrorist of owl's clover
                                     & broomrape,
                                         of fire spread,
like the shaman's voice
                                    on the prairie
                                                            wind.

      ~~~

My feet are butterflies.
Yours are hemiparasitic - able to create,
but taking life, to sustain itself
                       from the grass
                                      & forbs - it's how you survive
                                          the desert
                                                      of our middling.

     ~~~

Your petals on my tongue
are life & death - too much/too little,
how much is enough?


        ~~~

If you can live on the harsh exhaust of our coming
& going
                          you are stronger
                          than I am.




These are really notes, scribbles in my notebook in preparation, as I was researching for a poem that I was writing - I will post the final poem on Thursday. I have had a few people express interest in my process of writing - and there are a few of these that I think could stand alone with a bit of massaging.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

3.14159265





Pressing an ear to my belly button
I listen
            to all the wild within me

how it gathers
in a raucous writhing
beyond the pucker
of my birthing

"What is my name?"

the wild asks,
as if I am Adam,
this Eden,
& apple pie
                  has replaced
                  any thought of dinner

"You,"                                 (her,
I answer                                mine - more by choice
                                              than any kind of owner/ship)
& wait

for the smile
that is coming

like sunday morning whip cream
waking
              breath.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Joy & Pain, like Sunshine & Rain


photo by holmes palacios



It is not so much the birthing,
which in the stretch of muscle & contraction
as being, the parting of bone, spine bent
as question marks, the tear
of flesh
                        makes you curse the one who
                        put this inside you

On the day my son was born,
he died six times
                                until I wept dry riverbeds
                                that roared like rapids of lost heart beats

Or after,
exhausted, hearing that first cry,
lips trembling & angry hands flailing
when released from the swaddle - when you well
up, in sudden realization ---

I had a hand in this.

Or even,
pushing them out the door
& closing it - knowing they will find a way
or won't
                  There is only so much
                   you can do

And at worst,
being the one to administer their rites,
preparing first a last meal & enduring uncomfortable
conversation prior to their execution ---
                                           pushing the button,
                                           being the barbituate, parallytic
                                           & the potassium // all at once.

No,
It is none of this.

I have broken far too many
pencils / torn too many pages, howled & spittle,
curled knuckles on the steps my temple, took to my knees
before fields of unmarred snow
& promised far
                    too
                    much // I can't keep

For the moment // ink
                              spills

from the pen tip,
marauding & pillaging in hungry "words"
cannibals falling upon themselves
lips wet with syllables & eyes
reflecting a fragile sanity

(in reflection of their creator?)

until all that are left
is as they should be - versed
                                   &re-versed

& I take them in my mouth,
to womb again in the texture of my lungs,
knowing some will die / & heart beats lost
be baptized and reborn on my tongue before this mic
tonight //
                 as poems.

                 yes, ladies & gentlemen,
                 there is still joy to be had
                 in poetry ---





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

(n) a song, as of praise, devotion, or patriotism; a piece of sacred music





It makes sense our anthem is about a battle
ringing with the birth pangs of a nation

Especially since the first six years
of my son's life he sang it ---

Jose' can you see

And I wonder if he can,
or if he fears the storm troopers might bust in
and question his immigration

                                     status:

Is there ever a point we out-grow our anthem,
like clothes that no longer fit, in our gluttonous adolescence
become too tight,
                            or no longer express
our ideals?

What was lost in cutting off the last 3 stanzas,
adding
                PLAY BALL!
                or
                GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!

When was the last time you heard it
outside a sporting event?
                                          Why is that?
Does it not have a context
outside of conquest?

Is this the land of the free & home of the brave,
or the cow-ed & complacent,
hidden behind the rockets red glare
as it detonates civilians
in the vicinity of suspected terrorists

& the ramparts we've built
around the houses of our politicians
with our taxes

How many backs have born the weight
of our anthem
                                     "when the cause is just"
                                     "then conquest we must"
                                       for
                                      "in god we trust"

How much blood does it take to purchase
a grace of such a sweet salvation?

As much as the oil we ingest?

what glory.
what glory.

veiled as Moses,
to blind us from its diminishing.

"Their blood has washed
out their footprints
pollution."

Our veins are black.
Renamed.
Pipelines, where freedom rings
with each hammerfall,
                                     putting them in place

to protect
our pursuit   of happiness,

at the expense
of what our children believe,
each morning as they pledge allegiance
to something
                      we can no longer articulate
                       the meaning of ---

Is this our sacred song? our anthem?

Jose' can you see?





Sunday, August 23, 2015

Nuts



photo by christoph repprecht


Her lips are two squirrels
fighting over a nut - knowing it
might mean survival

thru the coming   season.
I almost want to dress myself
in shells & pretend to be
a nut.

Who am I kidding,
I already am ---



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Q&A


photo by katie tegtmeyer



I used to believe
love was the answer

to all the questions,
that put us in bed with insomnia,
legs Y-ed & birthing, victims
who change the channel to keep from seeing
images as disturbing // as flies on the eyes
of malnourished children, or beaten
                                                         animals,

to fears that made us walk big hand on little
to school bus stops & build bomb shelters
in place of family rooms in the basement,

As if love could cover the bruise of your attention
as well as mother's make up, bind back hands
behind the back of men, unclench fists
& knit busted lips into scarves
to keep our neck warm
in winter,

could fill stomachs with sustenance
so men, women & children would not line up
hours before the soup kitchen opens
& put more than a hand-full of rice in a bowl,
bring back fathers from wherever they went
on Friday nights only to never be seen again,
or turn alcoholics wine to water

That you could strap it like bras to bombs
to retard their releasing, keep Republicans
from being so damn conservative they seem
inhuman,
                      Stop the spin machine!

& play records backward
unspooling hidden messages, unriddling the terms
of our separation
                                   like race, like gender

LOVE IS NOT THE ANSWER

                                                    it is the question,

we must keep asking

ourselves,
as if each heart
                beat
                              begs
                                                      an answer.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Hesitation marks



 
 
"I see you,"
 
she says in a way I know her 
care is intensive,
                          
is beyond the tangle of blue jeans & t-shirt or the angle
my smile makes, as if I were a Chinese take out box
which come flat /// 100 to carton
 
& if folded right                      can be filled up
                                                 to be
                                                 emptied
 
I use chopsticks,
for nothing else than the illusion of authenticity;
 
which if you learn on the piano is a step away from "Taps"
 
&the sound rain makes on the windows,
or pebbles at two o'clock in the morning
 
I keep mine open /                 / hoping

for something more than status updates.
 The scars on my heart match the ones on my hands
& if I ball up
                       a fist, tell a hiStory
                       greater than the lines on my palms,
                       anything I can write
                       or what's read between them

I have been known, but unseen, as faith is
like the bench, on the sidewalk, ever waiting
for the bus // so those who rest their weight on it,
can be                            leaving
 
my first bleeding
came at ten / a crimson exodus
assuring there would be no Passover -
un-damming my bloodstream
                                    to river
                                    on the tile floor

It's the hemoglobin that gives it the color, an iron-protein,
we are iron rich, owing our abundance to fusion
in high mass stars & proverbs

Iron sharpens iron,
even if its strength comes only through its impurities

"I see you,"

she says, & I reply

"Sharpen your knife on me
so that when the time comes

                 ~ it will be quick,"

I want someone to open my box,
look at the mess of noodles, sauce, undecipherable meat
& vegetables,
                       and sigh

as the aroma fills the room,
let the rain wait tap-tap-tap-ing in the eaves until dinner
is past --- i'll curl over, bent as a cookie,
kneeling at the altar of your palm.

We are so fragile,
but it is the cracking which releases
the fortune ---

                           don't close your eyes

when you kiss
                                 me.
 



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Running fingers along the old stones & the whine of the pulley


photo by walt stoneburner


In the pause of your chest,
pregnant silence between each inhale & ex-
is a well I fall in

                               with no Lassie
                               to run for help.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to school




Between me on my knees
demonstrating the "duck and tuck" position
in case we should hear
                                                      TORNADO EVACUATION

in the still small voice that crackles out the speaker
of the intercom, like a candy wrapper making love
to a foghorn
                      which is a misnomer
                      considering we are to stay where we are

& holding hands
is the only acceptable form of PDA

sits an empty desk that contains all the things I should say
but the state dictates I don't

like when you choose to fuck someone on the tile floor
of the hall in building one, halfway from History to French,
after crawling through the window you left half latched

do it for the right reason

not for love,
because love never settles for second best
or the paths a thousand feet walked just hours earlier,

And when your mom asks you to sell yourself for $20
giving blowjobs on the bus, tell her
"Get your ass off the couch & find your own job"

These things are never on the syllabus,
don't fit English or Science, and would definitely be Social Studies
if that were not a bunch of dead guys that already tried
leaving behind Declarations and blueprints for a nation
that has raised more bastard children
than flags to half mast

Where is the math that explains that when you are drunk,
if you swan dive off the back of your pick up truck
into three feet of water it will break your neck,

Drowning is a violent surrender you can see the surface of
but not touch, there is no art in the blue blanket
they wrap your body
                                    & all the water running out
is an evacuation, there is no misnomer
I am tired of burying children

not from AK-47s in lands we invade to bring freedom,
but because of what we never taught them,

Jesus spoke of leaving the flock to find the one lamb,
but there are places I can not follow
                                                      this empty desk,
belonged to a boy,
he played basketball,
sat in the second row of my geometry class,
passed by the skin of his teeth, now cold to the touch,
he made me laugh like the sun was rising backward,
and is now a moment of silence

deeper than the space between stars,
than when his voice turned two years back.
Don't tell me he is in a better place.
There is not here, and I can not hear,
I am deaf to

procedures that keep us safe,
but sacrifice lives.

We can not stay where we are.
                    
Everyone,
take out your notebooks,
it's time to start class.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Praise


painting by claudia


It's not even October yet
& already I have opened my chest

Like the door they create cracking ribs
to replace hearts
                         malfunctioning
                         for whatever reason
                      
like the pumpkins of our youth,
fingers scooping the guts in a squish
of seeds & substance
                                    so we can carve a promise,
                                    a ward of protection,
                                    a face no one will want to test

for you,
I carve steps                so you can crawl in/
                                    to the cathedral
I have made of the hollow,
lit hundreds of candles in blessing
to the unnamed
                          that you might be known,

that every time you come
I
might

high note                             Hallelujah
                                            Hallelujah
                                            Hallelujah

& take you to confession,
laying my sins out before you as a blanket
spread, unpacked as a picnic basket
on a Summer afternoon - consumed

                                         that you might breathe on me
                                         a breeze, to break the heat & fill
                                         the billows of my lungs

ship sails, too long scuttled in their stalls,
now hard with wind

Tomorrow is a new land
I find only through your eyes

Chisel me / chisel me
Let's spray paint saints
names in the recesses, so we may                  be

Scrawl your scriptures with a bold and dangerous hand
on the inner most parts, so I can run
my fingers along them later
and feel the texture of you inside me

Wafer my mouth / that it may be pleasing
& when you offer the cup, I will

drink deep that I might
give back in tongues all that you have lavished upon
                                                                            me

I am crucified to your body
Be my jealous lover

There is no love
There is no love
                                            I wait
                                            for you.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Knick knack paddy wack



With every hand he shakes, every shoulder touched
he cups his own heart
                                    as if it were a wire bird cage,
                                    on a window ledge
& he but placing that small bit of essence
still clinging to his fingers
                                   like cotton candy
                                   from county fair nights
                                   & next morning stomach aches
in,

so that it might sing
to him
          & he remember
                                     beyond the groaning
                                     of this awakening

The humility in his palms are a psalm
I want to memorize - not for the trinket
the old ladies that taught Sunday School
bought from dollar bins,
                               delivered as bounty for winning
                               sword drills

like a sticker that reads "Jesus loves me"
but is no less revolutionary
                                 than "Abortion Kills"
                                 billboards

I want to place my heart to his chest to listen,
let the bird sing until his tongue is in my ear, tickling
my thought process til they unwind,

a broken DNA strand that no longer dictates
the coffee I drink, the name of the pigment sunset
takes or who I am supposed to hate

like tripping over the cracks
in the sidewalks of our ideals & dogma
& falling into the arms of the man who beat our mother,
until purple & blue were just another skin color
of oppression - then asking him out to lunch
to catch up

because I am tired of packing pistols to PTA meetings,
movie theatres & on nights I feel like wearing a hoodie,
we are losing the war
                                   of our own isolationist tendencies,
                                        and well wishes of "I will pray
                                               for you"
                                                               Never
                                                               getting      our hands
                                                               dirty

our hymns have become honking horns
& the middle finger; something we wear around our necks
to show off religiosity

There is no app for this,
our GPS can not find the coordinates
though the mechani-feminine voice keeps directing
us to "Turn in 100 feet"

with no thought
to how we will walk after that
on bare ankles

The best I have are napkins & scribbles,
impressions in the muscles, waves on the shoals,
songs i don't know the words to        but hum

& snap shots of an old man
hand to his heart
after each press of the flesh

I use to line the bottom of my birdcage
to keep the shit
                  from building
                                    up.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

*recommended daily allowance



Somewhere there is a top ten list
of things never to say

to a woman,

and surely on it is:
"I was just pulling a pork butt, thinking of you."

but she, being cultured, asks
"By hand or by fork?"

Because this makes all the difference.

"By hand, of course.
The better to tell the meat
                               from fat."

There is no subtext here, only an intimacy
worth saying

things others would never say

                                            ~ and meaning
                                                           them.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wrong numbers were right once upon a time


photo by CGP Grey


The paisley of her dress
is a field of wild flowers against
the soil of her skin,

a wild tangle of dreads
whipping in self-made wind
dances around her crown

but she doesn't believe
in such things.

No more than six, maybe seven,
in high heeled snakeskin
she grinds
                       a hole in the mud
                       with the boot toe,

big and round as her soul,
as the smile - that will disappear when
her mom beats her ass for ruining
her "good" shoes:

                                            "Sunday best"
                                             for Friday night
                                                              shoes
                                            

but right now,
she is free & dirty - in only
                                ways five years from now
                                will seem a lifetime
                                away;

answer this -

                               in the phone booth
                                          of my heart
the ringing             is incessant

                             answer
                                   this.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This present alchemy (of art)


photo by Ik T



I find him in the jungle among the fronds, discarded
from palms - their gnarly trunks crooked as spines
& he is on his knees

                               in a white button up shirt w/ blue collar,
yet to be stained with grease from a pump filling the pool
for hundreds of smiling tourists, from New York,
Greece, Nebraska, old Russian states, I can not pronounce,
a mix of accents rich with promise ---
                                                              all still currently
                                                                           sleeping

He is Cuban,
and his "r's" roll like waves kids jump & squeal
as their mother takes pictures.

I am looking for coconuts,
storm gods sent Earth-ward last night.

You have to be early or the black birds will beat you
pecking holes deep through the husk, cracking the nut,
to drink deep the milk
                                    & he is

building Machu Pichu,
sand piled high, & torn grass, old shells, a trashed cup,
2 pop tops, turned over as the eyes
                                                          which are really
                                                          only reflections of the sky

"I make it like ---"
&does his hands like steps
                                             "---you ever seen it?"

"No,
not in real life."

"I see it in a movie once. So beautiful."

Every morning he rebuilds it,
at his first break,
while all the others get coffee.

It's in the cup of his hand
against the moist grit,
the shape. He can't help,

having touched the power of creating something
beyond himself.

He knows where all the bodies are buried,
I want to tell him there are sacred places
where the light hits

just right. He uses leaves for turf. There is
a tremble. We ignore, we embrace,
in the silence of never
                           quite                alone ---

it transcends
our broken English & interchangeable syllables
is the reason our necks hurt
                     looking up

at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, on the shoulders
of Atlas,
             
is what I feel
as the vowels of your name christen my lips

& history replays,
a movie cast on a fluttering sheet,
whole civilizations
                                                           lost.