Somewhere in these woods, there is a glade
full of rusty retired cars. The paths are too narrow,
kept hostage by sky reaching cedars and short shrubs
so I know these cars weren’t driven there. The forest
grew around those relics. Not a tree bumps a bumper
and no grass grows taller than the rims. The forest
is kept at bay by those watchful headlights, dim
but not dumb. The woods will never encroach.
No branch will reach in through the window
and tune the radio with its cold arms.
Nor will the thorny bushes poke its fingers
around the backseat searching for keys.
And the old matches will stay unmoved.
The still wet and useless but undisturbed.
And the engine will rot but never be replaced.
Cars are called she. I don’t know why.
I know that she is lost. But she is okay,
content with calling the grove home,
as long as it respects her. As long as
it does not seek to uproot her.
She will be happy and grow older here.
And she will greet every lost boy who finds
her just the same way. He will see those headlights
and swear by all things good that they shined.
The funny thing about x
is that one moment it’s found
only to go missing the next time around.
My grandmother found x in a man
who puffed and puffed and shook her bones
with his voice. He grabbed her by the ribs
and said he was taking back what God had stole.
She saw the equation solved and complicated again
every time he said he loved her.
She could never tell who he was saying it to.
My mother found x in her children.
The x comes in infrequent, but savory scraps
of mothers-day cards and kisses goodnight.
But when our x is so faithless, I think she goes
looking in the Christian radio station.
My sister found x in herself when she said
she’d never let another man touch her.
My grandmother laughed and cried that night.
She knows that x in our hands and hearts is like
finding x in candles that will always need to be
replaced and relit.
I found x in a Sunday service.
It was at the alter where I cried
and didn’t know who I was mourning.
It was underneath the pews.
It was in the stained-glass portrait
of a man who could’ve been my friend
if only he was around more often.
The funny thing about God is that I thought I found Him,
only for him to go missing from His tomb.
Two lungs to swell in the moment
Two hands to ball up or raise
depending how I feel.
Two feet to carry me to the front lines.
Two eyes to witness interesting times.
Two ears to listen for a battle cry
or the storm that’ll carry us all to sea.
Ten fingers to count transgressions.
One heart that pumps.
Two watering eyes.
Two ears tuned to the right channel.
Two nostrils flaring like a bull.
One drummer boys heart.
Lips, open! Open up!
It’s me! Do something!
Silence and my heart
slows to a deadly march.
I’ve been riding this train
for a very long time now,
much longer than the woman
who just got on. While all stand clear,
the doors close, and we
are locked in this silver eel together.
It is two minutes beneath the East
River until the next stop and I feel
the pressure pounding, my ears popping,
and her eyes perusing the train
as if it is her first time. She has goldfish eyes.
They are wide and forgetful eyes.
Dark and beautifully unforgettable eyes.
This journey will always be new for her.
I think of talking to her, ask her what
book she’s reading. But all my thought
drift upward like hot air, and seep through
the cement and cement to drown, unheard,
in the East River.
As the train arrives at Bedford Avenue,
I am tired and the train lulls me to sleep.
My eye close like a camera lens,
but no photo for memory is saved.
When I wake up, she is gone. But,
I know tomorrow she’ll be back with those
glassy refreshing eyes. God’s most beautiful
anointment, those youthful Goldfish eyes.
In my bedroom, there are congas
that I’ve never beat and a Puerto Rican flag
that I’ve never hung. My dad gave them to me.
I don’t need that stuff like he did.
They call me and I put on my best gringo voice:
Sold on craigslist for 50 bucks.
How can a senator not be a working man?
Can he work for the people to fulfill,
without working hands, that which the
farm hands demand? Oh he must be a man
of men, a man of many. Who else can he be?
No the senator is a working man.
Yet something in his tone makes me laugh.
Forgive me if he is beloved, I, an iconoclast,
should know where he is from. His father
was the son of a son of some great other son.
He has never worked in anything less than a tie,
and won’t give but the best to his foreign bride.
Oh now I’m sure he is a working man, but a different
type of work, with smoother ale and hands.
The moon, with its crescent hook dangling above us
catches my absent gaze. Yes, that is it, a hook
in an eye. A hook to pull my eyes so that I look
on open waters. We were once fisherman,
and caught big catches, with rainbow gils
and thin long whiskers. It was beautiful,
when hooks and nets were casts
and the oceans teemed with life ready
to wrestle with our god-like hooks.
All fish prey the same way and a frenzy
is a revival. Come out on the water,
and cast your nets alongside mine.
We will cook and eat and pray at noon,
and at nightfall admire a crescent moon.