sábado, diciembre 01, 2018

Taking of power

And then the words flow,
Like the brackish water lapping
Dirty river to tumultuous sea.
Not saline, nor sweet, nor fully integrated.
Some other thing.
An unassailable, nameless feeling.
(I think of you and your storms)
I look up at the billowing curtain,
Translucent vermillion,
Backlit in the afternoon.

I’d like to think that I learned everything I needed to
From this failure.
That next time,
Should there be a next time
(There is always a next time)
I will be a better version of myself
A deeper, more generous version,
A less afraid one.

I fear that maybe that’s a little lie I tell myself
To convince me that there’s some comfort
In a world that rips babies from their parents’ arms
In the name of some geopolitical boundaries
That I can neither see nor believe in.
Nor suffer.
(And yet we pretend, shuffling through metal detectors
And radiating our baggage--
The minor indignities of hands patting down our imperfect
Bodies in plain sight.)

I float, retching in a sea,
With each wave of nausea,
I am overcome, I relent, it all falls away.
You never liked when I cried,
And I’m crying now, defiantly, to myself
while the YouTube autoplay Gods
Cleverly play Jeff Buckley, then Linda Ronstadt, then Joan Baez
Then Joni Mitchell, because they know
The particular dimensions of this pain,
(Really, they only aggregate data and then make predictions)
This subterranean, prehistoric pain
That tears through me,
That is leaving.
I want to believe that I can let it go.
I want to let it go.
You say you want simple things,
(But all I ever wanted was to come home to you.)
An imperfect home, to be sure, world-weary and wounded.
And running so no one would notice what’s missing.

I look down at the toilet,
At my hand that cleans,
What’s left behind,
Damn, of course, I’m ovulating.
My face red and mottled,
Made uglier from the salty tears,
Skin puffy and showing my certain age.
And I mourn for all the children I never had,
Never will have
Never got to have
(And all the years of joyfulness that I can’t remember
Or that I do remember and miss,
Her tiny hands clutching mine,
Her belly laugh, her dancing eyes)
Because I was deafened by my own
Or drive
Or fear.

I want to learn to listen to my soul,
Not just my body,
Prodded and palpated by physicians,
Debated by politicians and pundits.
I want them to let me be a woman, at night, alone.
(With no questions or comments
Or arched-eyebrow allusions.)
And then I want to do the same for her,
To show her what it really means
To be brave.
To be free.

miércoles, septiembre 12, 2018

Midnight Fugue

There is a mosquito that won’t let you sleep.
It’s not a metaphorical mosquito,
But a real, blood-bathing, ear-buzzing bastard,
That resists death, in the form of frantically flailing hands.
You wish for its death, like you wish for your own
Peace. You are safe. You tell yourself: I am safe
But there are those who are not.
Don’t bother yourself with the ugliness,
That chipper inner voice chirps,
The one that speaks to everyone else,
With gentleness, and aplomb,
But to you is just a shrill iteration of all the things
You’re not sure you can ever be.
Peace. Safety. Love. Freedom.
The mantra you invented while hands dug deep
Into your flesh. Can you feel it,
Can you feel it, Can you feel it?
Hands twist into you, but you can only feel yourself floating
Out into the deep waters,
Where there’s no more want, no more loss,
No more fear. Is that freedom?
To be free, you think, you must not care.
You must let go of the outcome,
Like the glass you’re left holding, after the party ends.
Forgotten, clutched too tight.

To let go is to let shatter.
To let fall. To shower crystal, liquid, air, nothing.
To be transformed.
The mosquito swings at your head again,
The bright screen illuminating your face for no one.
Words cannot save him. Words cannot
Protect him from the metastasizing, proliferating
Emptiness that has been laid at your feet, an offering.
A gift. A trap. A hope.
You give yourself to sleep, though the threat still looms,
The certainty of discomfort, cutting across a blackened room.
In the morning, you will be alone again.
It’s better that way, you know.
Your freedom is worth more than a few kind words,
A handful of kisses, blown on the wind,
and a hand that has no right to reach for your own.

And in the end, we’re all just tied up in knots
By the people that try to rope in our unruly bodies and minds
You announce that you need to write songs
And wish you could play guitar
Or make love for an entire afternoon,
By the ocean with windows flung wide
And curtains, white linen,
Flapping against the azure sky
(Writing songs involves less risk)
(It’s easier to accomplish)
(Less exciting)
We settle
It seems
Or we don’t
And we’re constantly wandering,
escaping the fundamental gnawing
Of our intellect against our emotion.
Too quick for the devil to seize.

Writing, too, is a fugue state.

You write: There are shreds of me,
Fluttering about the ether
There are pieces of my desire,
Pulled in undertow
Through subterranean lovesick caves,
Pulsing with the throb of the ocean
I need an audience of one,
It seems, to seek a set of eyes trained on mine
So I can perform for you,
Reflect your desire back to you,
Feel you sink into my flesh,
As if you had always belonged there,
As if you would always remain there
Even if we know that can’t be true.

I still want to hold you, taste you,
Wake up looking into your eyes.
Even if only for one night
Only one day, only one life.
I need to be known, once
To know from inside of you, moving inside of me,
Slowly, immortalizing, crystalline falling
Suspended in time.

A ringing in my ears.
The torment announces itself, and your senses fail you,
Reaching for freedom, in the dark, and finding only its shadow.

jueves, junio 28, 2018

Lessons for my 40th year

Well it is less than two weeks into my 40s, and I thought I'd evaluate some lessons from four decades in the trenches. That is to say, lessons that I am still learning after 40 years on this rock-hurtling-through-space-in-a-highly-ordered-manner. It's a slow becoming.

Lesson 1. Less is more. Whatever you can't take with you, you probably don't need. And if you really need it, you can get it where you're going. And if you can't get it, most problems have a work-around, and there's no need to add weight to a situation. (Saying please and thank you when trying to solve the problem, however, is never out of style).

Lesson 2: Say "no" to what feels wrong, and "yes" to what feels right. How, you ask? Not quite as easy. Listen to your interior voice. (Damn it, listen, really listen. Be still. And slow. And deliberate.) Take opportunities to reset and find your voice, it's always there, but often hiding from the din of others and their urgencies.

Lesson 3: Exalt wonder in all its forms. Be gentler with your child, and/or your inner child. They are tender people, we all are really. Honor them, and cherish them, and don't get mad when they lose your shit, or forget something because they were busy imagining something wonderful. No momentary disappointment is worth the pain of their absence when they're gone.

Lesson 4: Love fails, but it is not your parachute. Love freely and fearlessly, and don't accept love that is too cowardly to open its doors fully. Don't claw at hermetic seals and don't nourish yourself with breadcrumbs, as you will be battered and malnourished and angry at yourself. Leap into vulnerability, if that is what you want from others, and if there is no one there to catch, you will LITERALLY not die. So live.

Lesson 5: It's not always about you. In fact, it almost never is. That is to say, everyone of us is in the middle of our own process, with our own emotional and intellectual metabolisms. It is easy to be angered, frustrated, or saddened when we don't get what we want from someone else, but people can only give as much as they have in excess of their needs, and that is determined by forces external to you. So don't add to your own pain by giving yourself more importance in the processes of others than is warranted.

Lesson 6: You don't owe the world beauty. Or thinness. Or athletic prowess. Or a smile. Or your time. Or neatly groomed hair, nails, cars, lawns, houses. You have enough within you and you are enough.

Lesson 7: Don't be a dick. Like seriously, don't go out of your way to mess with someone. Even if you think they deserve it. Even if they've done you wrong. (Remember, they are in their own process and navigating their own traumas.) Also, if you can easily make someone's day better with minimal effort, go for it. It's never the wrong choice.

domingo, marzo 25, 2018

Tu una y tu otra

Quiero ser tu una y tu otra
que me veas con ojos claros
como la luz de los faros
en la lejana costa
después del anochecer.
En tus brazos quiero hallarme
tu piel y la mía
confundidas en su cercanía.
Te quiero compañero
escalando montañas
recolectando historias como
semillas para plantar en tu jardín.
Que mi necesidad de recorrer
el mundo entero
bajo zapatos gastados
no te haga temer
porque te llevo conmigo siempre
aunque estés arraigado a 
tu tierra, tu labor, tu deber.
Quiero que tus palabras nutran
las mías y las mías se alberguen
en tu pecho, se conviertan en
el aliento que oxigene
tus vías sanguíneas

la oscuridad que llevas dentro.

lunes, febrero 19, 2018

Parting words

I see you there,
your arm casually slung around her shoulder,
as if this were the natural order of things,
as if this were the way your arm always is, always was.
Not ever wrapped around my shoulder,
tracing skin with skin,
fingers wrapping around my locks,
and tugging, gently.

She looks lovely, I think.
I don't need to hate her,
I simply can't know her.
Not for my pride's sake,
Lord knows I have none left,
but for me to hold,
as if frozen in a floating soap bubble,
the fantasy that you once loved me,
or might have in some alternate reality
in which her poised blonde head
did not form the perfect tête-a-tête with yours.

And I know now that you were protecting her,
not me,
and that it isn't her fault,
that the wind is knocked out of me
every time that you and I speak.
She didn't get the same memo,
signed carelessly,
the one in which you were "unavailable"
for a "relationship"
that you hope will never change.

And I want to stew in my own self-pity, too...
but I can't. There's too much to do,
too much teeming, insistent life clamoring at my door.
I wish I could unknow you,
and if such a thing seems unlikely,
that I could at least unlove you.
Gently pry out each and every tender root,
that your words have grown, variegated,
in my fecund soil.
Remove each tiny vessel that nourishes
my intellect, feeds my fantasies,
my melodious dreams.

You like to think of yourself as a good man.
A faithful man.
And you are, I suppose.
Like any responsible adult,
You only occasionally peek your head back in,
to check on the wild-eyed lupine lady,
who claims to see you,
to know you, beneath the mask.
To test that her certainty
your lives were meant to be intertwined,
earth and air, fire and water,
is still there.
Just in case,
maybe she's not crazy after all.

sábado, enero 06, 2018


My daughter turns and laughs,
"Oh, my mother, she’s a wild one."
She says so with admiration in her voice,
And the needle that jabs the tiniest of pinpricks,
To my soul is suspended, mid-stab.
"You know," says my sister, "it’s true."
She holds my hand as my voice wobbles,
Across centuries, and borders, and bodies of water
Enjoy it, while it lasts, you always do!
And I pause, pen to paper,
Epithets thick on my tongue.
Part of me knows he’s not wild enough.
Maybe nobody is or ever will be.
But it is so hard to walk away from the beautiful things
That life has given you, and you may not keep.
And in that sisterly comfort
Wild-haired and laughing through another
Scraped knee, we make fun of our own pain
Because there is nothing else to do
When you are a dandelion cycling through your stages:
Green and rooted, tenacious, sticky,
Then golden and glorious, face to the sun,
Then wispy and ethereal, milky, weeping,
Then floating on the wind, scattered to pieces
Only to be reborn, a weed in some other patch of
Crumbling earth, or hardened clay, or desert crust.
Always sneaking in roots. Always hopeful, always free.

domingo, diciembre 31, 2017

Week: A Toast for 2017

I salute a year that has taught me humility. To it, I raise glass to lips,
And burn…Gratitude, deep as the ocean floor, dense as a dying star:

To the lover who shared my home, but not my hopes.
To the woman who stopped answering my calls, stopped climbing mountains by my side.
To the couple whose fights make me ache with self-recognition.
To the woman whose friendship I thought I had lost, but returned.
To the man who had a wife, and then didn’t.
To the man who has a wife, still.
To the women who cackle, like witches, our voices carrying over the wind.
To the man I want to love, who is not yet ready to receive it.
To the woman who finally had the baby she so desperately desired.
To the man I met ages ago, who came back to rescue me from boredom.
To the woman who was so afraid he would leave her, that she ran away.
To the woman who lost her father, but never her laughter to share.
To the people I have wronged accidentally, or willfully, in my own pain.
To the family that has chosen me, and my girl, to love as if we were kin.
To my brother, whose politics I cannot comprehend.
To my father, whose voice-cracking holding back tears brings me to my knees.
To my mother, my hero, who holds her hand when I must leave.
And to my daughter, for whose breath I would give my own,
Whose heart is my heart,
Whose light did not but flicker, and yet burns.

Saludo a un año que me ha mostrado humildad. A él, levanto vidrio a labios, y quemo… gratitud, tan honda como el fondo del mar, tan densa como una estrella moribunda:

Al amante que compartió mi casa, pero no mis esperanzas.
A la mujer que dejó de recibir mis llamadas, dejó de escalar montañas a mi lado.
A la pareja cuyas peleas me duelen con auto-reconocimiento.
A la mujer cuya amistad creí haber perdido, que regresó.
Al hombre que tenía una mujer, y luego ya no.
Al hombre que tiene una mujer, aún.
A las mujeres que cacarean como brujas, nuestras voces flotando por encima del viento.
Al hombre que quiero amar, que no está listo para recibirlo.
A la mujer que por fin tuvo al hijo que tan desesperadamente deseaba.
Al hombre que conocí hace mucho, que volvió para rescatarme del aburrimiento.
A la mujer que tenía tanto miedo de que él la dejara, que se fugó.
A la mujer que perdió a su padre, pero jamás su risa para compartir.
A las personas a las que he dañado accidentalmente, o voluntariosamente, desde mi propio dolor.
A la familia que me ha escogido a mí y a mi hija como si tuviéramos parentesco.
A mi hermano, cuya política no puedo comprender.
A mi padre cuya voz quebrantada aguantando el llanto me abruma.
A mi madre, mi héroe, que la sostiene de la mano cuando debo salir.
Y a mi hija, por cuya respiración daría la mía,
Cuyo corazón es el mío,
Cuya luz sólo parpadeó, pero aún arde.