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Selected Poems

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?

But maybe

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,

youth,

and the joy

of recklessly rushing into unknown space.

In Bloom

 

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.

Women falling

 

Women

falling from ledges

of  bleached brick-framed windows

high above the grassless ground.

Bodies,

adorned in bright, but riven silks

rushing to concrete graveyards.

No flailing, no cries;

women look

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

their names,

the true color of their eyes,

the way the used to smile

as they gently brushed their hair

 

Women

being pushed

bytheirownhands, betrayed

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”

 

Still

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.

For Hilma

 

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.

Friday Night

 

I don’t care that I’m sitting

alone

eating tofu

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.

The Madonna

 

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.