Passing Wood (Somewhere in Ithaca, NY)

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.

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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.

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.