Watching the News

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.
It’s pumping.

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.

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Between First Avenue and Bedford

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.

A Scholar’s Sonnet

We measure our life in half empty beakers
and drain pipets of our worth into deep, awaiting
test tubes. Like Jesus, a weightless insect, oil
on water we float atop the plains of unending and uprising
seas; we are holy, disgusting, and dangerous.
It stirs below us. Whirlpools drain us to their depths.
Riptides drag us to their conclusions. And yet we float.
And yet there are those of full glasses, who drink
sea water, in hopes to go mad. Those who turn their heads
and grin at a cave-sentenced puppeteer. They do not fall next
behind Alexander in the line of students, but they are greater
than Glaucon. They elucidate life with nothing more than glowing
eyes. Look you learned man who cannot live! Erudite starver!
How noble is a noble when compared to this carver?

My Bandera

I’ve never felt this latino.
Rummaging through my basement,
without cause. There are two sombreros.
Two ornate bongos that my daddy used
to play. There is a Corona poster on the wall,
next to a lei and an old metal folding chair.
The poster has a Mexican flag on it.
We are not Mexican. A few feet away,
draped over old Mustang car seats, is
a Puerto Rican flag, with a coqui sprawled
lazily across the fading banner. It is old.
Its fringes fray and its folds have lost their
crispness. There is a superman comic book
hung crooked in a gilded frame. And just
to the right of my flag is a thick poster board,
with a mansion and a helicopter and a Florida
waterfront printed. Beneath the show of wealth
a scribe had etched, in large Times New Roman,
“This is all I want.”
I think of the flag, and the poster, and the bongos
as my dad sings:
Que bonita bandera,
Que bonita bandera
Que bonita bandera,
La Bandera Puertorriqueña.
My confused tongue does not sing,
and I’ve never been so frayed.

Seeing Bees

I see them swarming and skinning
one another with yellow sandpaper bodies;
they are like gnats, but bigger and more
beautiful. They hum, and murmur
and speak in little voices in the meadows,
perch on sunflowers and hold sweet nectar,
and sing the coming of spring. And with legs
planting themselves like lovers’ fingers around my arm,
she lands on me. She grazes on me, searching
for what she might make sweet. She leaves me,
empty-handed. I ponder where she sleeps now,
what cause she serves. And her beauty, quiet words.
But I remember how they swarm back to the hive,
it’s just a trip outside, to let her knows she’s alive.

Between Timid and Timbuktu (After Kurt Vonnegut)

as the theater empties out,

water running to the safety

and security of the ocean

of its kind, I imagine the words

between timid and timbuktu.

the moment when these lights

rise on the stage, players

devoted to what they love,

and those storming seas

roaring to see what life

is like on shore. all pleasures

floating in the cool air,

putting the foaming waters

to rest with approaching beaches.

it is magical; full of nothing but

sand castles and cloud animals,

turning the mundane into a strange

experiment in taming nature.

but soon, the clouds turn to overcast.

and the roaring sea returns

in high tide. quickly demolishing

our castles, and rolling back to sea,

wholly unchanged and unaware.

New York in Short

after the night has ended, before

the sun rises I sit and think about

believing. something, anything to believe.

stories like my own, told by someone

who can tell them better than I can.

everyone else has long gone home,

likely sleeping off the memories

of bad jokes and misunderstandings

quiet quarrels, fighting words

wisely left deep in the throat.

but I am awake with the cricket,

with the moon whose crater filled

face reminds me of the boulders

in central park. I’ve never been

but I wouldn’t mind going. Earth

science taught me that they were

dropped by glaciers during the ice age,

an unwanted child, left on the steps

of a church it would help build.

there are so many unwanted ones

in new york. outcasts from one place

or another looking to build their temple

in the sand, where it may unscramble

the riddles of piety. where it may

crumble to the satisfaction of

its attendants, releasing all the

mystery of mysticism that

the orthodox would follow.

tearing the labels of the label maker

is the birthright of those who

have been reborn in exodus.

baptized in exile, who have refused

to be exercised of their demons.

because what is a demon?

is it not the forgotten child,

carrying its message long

after the glacier has melted?

is it not the outcast, left to clean

the nails from Calvary and going home

with his nails painted red;

his hands, drenched in salvation.