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.


Finding x

The funny thing about x
is that one moment it’s found
only to go missing the next time around.

Part I

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.

Part II

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.

Part IV
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.

Part V

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.

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.

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!

Black Grandfather

My family has this tradition
of giving from generation to generation
clocks. These gears that have ground for centuries
are losing seconds every minute. The hands
clasp around each other: a moment
of peaceful prayer
or lonely longing.
These are the minutes of our grandfather
clocks. The gears are ground to nothing
but gums and blackened teeth.
Its feet are rotting away beneath it.
Its chest collapses in on itself.
It can’t remember the time.
Or the year. Or itself.
I don’t want the grandfather
who can’t tell its story.
Where it’s been. It only
shows me that elegance
is the epitome of stupidity
because even the fine grooves
have faded. They are deeper and less
refined. They entrap an idle tongue
and immobile eyes. These
are the minutes of my grandfather,
when he was given to me
and thus was mine to give.

Lillies and Orchids

When he told her to open
she unfolded two flowers before him.
A lily and pink orchid.

And when he told her to rise,
she gave him a mountain to stand on.
A city on the hill.

She gave him a cliff, and a view.
She let him drink her veins
and sell her soul.

She didn’t scream too loud
when he dug into her heart,
before asking for it.

When he says bleed,
she pours black blood into
his broken palms.

When she says stop,
he leaves. She blooms
new carnations for him.

When he says she’s empty,
she’s dry. He leaves.
her veins erupt volcanos under him.

He keeps saying open,
and takes the orchid.
Gives it to his family.

She is a mistress of mourning.
She is a justice’s widow.
She, our lovely concubine.

We drill those mountains.
Harvest those veins.
Abuse those grounds.

I said open,
and she unfolded two flowers before me,
I’m taking two lilies home to mom.