The Universe is Merciful After All
I seek the dream of lost poems,
words born in the inhospitable womb
of my fleeting mind; I’m planting
footsteps in rushing tides. And of whispers
of almost thoughts whose tiny, shining
hands got clipped
by the door, before
they could ever touch.
Touch what? Are there answers down
hidden hallways stretching
through my soul to places I think
I’ll never go?
I will go and then forget my path.
Is everything lost along the way?
There must be truth engraved on my bones
that sometimes overcome my skin, and flash
in front of my eyes and vanish
before I can grab a pen.
Only a dream can extract meaning from
the dusty chalk of my being, lift out
my bones and set them in light.
I know there is a dream in forgotten
poems, words of endless pilgrim signs.
I know the world is not all blackness.
Perhaps it is from mercy that I cannot see.
Sunrise on a Southern Pacific Train
Sometimes I wish I were still hanging
over the side of a rushing train, charging
through the desert under a sky the color
from which myths are made.
The wind thrashed my hair and dries
the saliva in my mouth.
I was given a new skin-
the thick tar and grease sticking to
my forearms, clogging the pores on my face,
the beer bought at the convenience store
by the train yard spilled on my shirt and pants,
the sweat born from living each crucial day
as if tomorrow was in jeopardy.
At times I wanted to ride forever.
The galaxy seemed so large, as the train
rocks like a cradle and I fell
asleep and dream free dreams,
unseen, soothed by speed,
drunk on wind,
and the joy
of recklessly rushing into unknown space.
The wind has found the gap
between my shirt
and pants. It’s curling around
my belly, blowing on my back.
The sun ignites my chest, scalding
my neck and breasts, boiling my eyes.
My back is saved
and loved with a gentle breath
that feels like angels’ hands.
My fingers rub the forgotten
skin of my thighs that for months
have missed the sun. I’m alone
with the wind and her rushing
skirts, whipping me as she flies
to the solar ball.
Stillness has never felt so charged.
The erupting hyacinths and lavender agree.
I leave my seat for a bed of grass, exposing
myself to the touch of sprouting green.
falling from ledges
of bleached brick-framed windows
high above the grassless ground.
adorned in bright, but riven silks
rushing to concrete graveyards.
No flailing, no cries;
neither up nor down
They cannot see
the anxious and mournful eyes
at the ground below,
the arms outstretched
ready to absorb, willing to catch
the bodies of women who had forgotten
the true color of their eyes,
the way the used to smile
as they gently brushed their hair
by their own fragile soles.
They are the women
who plant seeds in toxic soil
and believe the infertility
comes from their arms.
But a sparrow flies in
on a stream of swift wind
and whispers in women’s calloused ears,
“You too can have wings”
some women fall
some women fly
some return to the ledge
to die and die again.
Others see the blueness
of the faraway sky
and feel the life
surging through their wings.
In Defense of My Red Skirt
I’m wearing a red skirt
of shiny, smooth, and slippery fabric
with green and gold Chinese dragons
dancing in circles chasing their tails.
The skirt is red like a cherry in a bowl of cream,
red like the heart of a girl in love.
It’s the kind of shiny that makes my wandering
hand follow it like a sweet dream.
But this dream stops short-
far above my knee,
so that when I sit it scarcely exists.
But something so little can mean so much.
I know it’s not the dragons that ensnare
the eyes of the two girls in gray shirts and dull
denim jeans that enter the bathroom as I leave.
With the thud of the wooden door, I hear words
condemning the brevity of my skirt,
analyzing the intent of my shiny red.
They’re in their stalls when I open
the door and stand in front of it
so they cannot pass.
The first girl emerges, laughing.
I find her eyes and grab them
as I would the throat of an assailant.
Her knees quiver as she looks for an exit.
And suddenly, there is something
more alarmingly red in the room
than my beautiful skirt.
Grass. The meadow moves
with the wind and the
sighs of heaving breasts.
The sky shoots down arrows, beady rain,
giving water to the dry wisps
of fallen leaves.
Crisp is the air
running through loose boards,
whistling in the gaps, blowing
through nail holes.
Red. The color of my heart
watching from the window.
Eyes soft as light, holding
the jam of summer berries,
sipping water pulled from the well.
Stars in the early night sky call
me to the dark; oceanic in their calm,
full of dream, full of blue—
the color of washed stone.
I don’t care that I’m sitting
that I cooked for an hour.
I’m not starving.
I can’t feel the way
my shirt lifts and exposes
my skin to the warm air, as I
sit arched over raw, naked
paper with pen in hand.
I don’t taste the feisty garlic
and rich, smooth soy.
I’m deaf to the music luring me
to different places in my heart.
There is no bedroom with cold sheets
seven feet eight inches from my dining room chair.
No bounty remains in my cooking pot.
No place setting for two.
There is no crushing silence in the air,
no soiled, broken dishes to be washed and mended,
no sense of being on knees in the desert.
No need for you.
Hello dolly, I am dead,
buried under yesterday’s trash-
the corn no longer on the cob,
black coffee ground into my skull,
apple cores pregnant with worms.
I found a pair of clipped wings,
umbilical longing inside a red cereal box.
Here I exist for you, stripped of all my skin,
burning glossolalia waiting to be extinguished.