I Want to Sing America

I hear demolition in the city and it forces me
to think of a donkey dawdling down waving streets
in summer, with its passenger along side him.
His face is timeless, inestimable how many times
he’s walked this road. He is manila with cement mixer
or dove hair. A rosary hangs like shingles in the storm from
wrists that sit above rough hands. His eyes are dark
and innocent. He looks through me at the road ahead.
He is immutable.

Oh I’ll find my place with the working man,
I’ll build my home with my own two hand
      in the USA! Oh yes in the USA!
Give me few dollars and a couple cents
I’ll find a nice wife and a picket fence
      in the USA! Yeah I’m in the USA!
Send me to fight in your defense
I’ll give my life as recompense
      for the USA! I’m for the USA!
Just lend me a helping hand
bring me to the promise land!
      I love the USA! I love the USA!

The song rumbles like Laredo and echoes
to Cologne. Pay close attention to the demolition
and listen for him droning:
I’m on my way to the USA
left my life to join the great
      On the way to USA!
      I hope it’s what they say!

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Name Him Conquerer

There is a mix of knees and hands on asphalt,
grey sidewalks, and front steps. Show me your hands,
stained icebergs that will not recede without being scratched
and picking up some small pebble in its recession.
You will not recede without scars. You will not back down.
You will resist when they tell you to stop moving. And then,
with sudden tear of a curtain and thunder without lightening
you will stop resisting. Stop moving. Show me your hands.
The iceberg melts despite its temperature dropping. They rip
you from your shirt, like David. Made you look mad. Stripped,
The mix is settled and I see it clearer now.
Your stigmata and water in the streets.

60 Seconds on the Line

60 Seconds On The Line

0-1 sec: Indiscernible
3.0 sec: Yelling help, no, stop, help
7.3 sec: Yelling: hands (indiscernible)
9.4 sec: Sounds officer needs assistance, yelling help
12.1sec: Yells, maybe why’re you doing this
15-17 sec: Scream
19.1 sec: Scream ends
20.8 sec: Don’t know who’s talking, stay down help please stop why
26.3 sec: Yells something, maybe suspect officer needs assistance
28.2 sec: Arriving on scene
37.6 sec: Yells something, sounds like let go
45.4 sec: Scream
47.2 sec: Yells, grunting, sounds like stay still
50.7 sec: 3 gunshots
54.5 sec: Gunshot
54.8 sec: Yell, help oh my God help
57.2 sec: Yells, someone help
57.8 sec: Sounds like the words got you
59.3 sec: Officer on the radio, shots fired, send medical
59.8 sec: Yells

Call Terminated: 59.9 Seconds

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.

Can’t Dance

dark boy stands among white crowds,
and moves how he saw his mama do;
one foot forward, hands up, hands down.
step in place, learn to groove.

some dark boys have pale hearts,
his arrhythmia kicking in.
dark boy here likes the white arts,
maybe being dark isn’t for him.

never did love to dance,
not like he’s supposed to
but dark boys last chance
to be dark is to groove

he dances without swing
beats like his core
he hears that angel on stage sing
makes his way to the door.

one foot forward, hands up, hands down,
dark boy don’t leave, dark boy groove
just like dark boys do, don’t frown,
just move like mama told us to.