A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Month: April, 2020

9/30: NEVER A CURSE

Cutting squash and zucchini
I’m talking to my mom on the phone
listening to her tell me about her day
at the end of the day. I called her
because today is my grandpa’ Fred’s birthday.
He turns 79.  I was not there to celebrate you,
grandpa, like the years before, surrounded by family,
where we ate BBQ, and cake made just for us,
both April babies, blowing out candles and
laughing forever. Today, my gratitude shines through.

And yet, on this same day, I cannot find the words.
It’s been a year since my grandma passed.
Her name was Theresa.
I was not there to say goodbye.
It’s been a year since one of my best friends passed.
His name was Keaton.
I am still grieving
Not yet ready to give a voice
to that quiet monster.
This is so new.
My grief and gratitude,
sitting in the same room.
Listening to my mom
laugh over the phone,
as I ask her who
all I’m supposed to invite
to the rehearsal dinner.
I’m getting married in December
to the woman I love. I will always
choose this life. Even when I don’t have
the right words. Yeah, it’s strange
to carry so many emotions at once
But I consider it a blessing.
Never a curse.

 

 

8/30: FOR HONEST JIMMY AT THE WAL-MART ON YALE

This is a poem for Jimmy
at the Wal-Mart on Yale
who delivered groceries to my car today
and taught me a lesson for free
No one tells you what to say after you
ask someone how their day is going
And they respond with
not so good.
That happened to me today
at the Wal-Mart on Yale.
As I put the frozen pizza in my backseat,
I asked Jimmy how he was doing
and he told me it was a not so good day
Shook his head and took a breath
Explaining that everyone called in sick today
and he was 1 of 3 people handling all the groceries
answering phones all day from strangers
asking him to do his job faster
He goes onto say,
When I get in a rush and try to speed up,
I make mistakes, and I hate making mistakes.
And I want to say anything to make him feel better
I imagine the strange anger he’s had to swallow today
in the name of customer service. But mostly,
I want to thank Jimmy for his honesty
for keeping it real and not burying how he feels
just because it was inconvenient.
I want to tell him how many mistakes I’ve made
in the course of a single day, just so he knows
he isn’t alone — not today or tomorrow.
I wish it were easier to leave a bad day behind
Wish it didn’t always take up so much space.
But of course, I didn’t say any of this to Jimmy.
Not sure if would’ve changed a thing. I will say,
when Jimmy walked away, the last thing he said to me was
I hope you have a good day.

7/30: Ode To My Newfound Grey Hairs

You exist in the deep night of my hair
despite the sunshine outside
When I bemoan your existence,
and attempt to remove you from my life
my fiance warns me against it.
I don’t even think about you until
I’m standing in front of the mirror
watch my hand get lost in the
Pitch-black battleground
that is my skull
only to find you all there
my newfound grey hairs
little knights in shining armor
like waning crescent moons
silver seeds that stress sowed
I thank you
for being a tiny blessing
that continues to grow back
evidence of change
the proof of time passing
that things won’t always be
the same.

6/30: TODAY

Today I am and nothing more than that.
Contemplation offers no cure the present cannot fix.
Whatever hurt I had I no longer hold.
I am no longer filled with yesterday’s pain.
To become who I wanted took so much time.
I will be who I worked to become.
I promise to continue the work every day.
Today I am trusting who I still have time to become.

5/30: GENERATIONAL WEALTH OF A DIFFERENT KIND

For most Mexican-American families
our only heirlooms are stories. Sometimes,
a cross carved by hand or found at a garage sale.
Maybe enough saint candles
for a small, simple miracle.
A box of photos, an album perhaps.
if you’re lucky enough.
Or some old, faded jewelry from a lovestory
that probably played some part
in your small, simple existence.
The best part of every story, of course,
belongs to the voice that told it,
echoing through time,
the tales of our bloodline
paraphrased through generations
a legacy in its own right
and a gift for the next one, if done right.
The second best part of the story, of course
belongs to the recipes we can only hope to recreate.
Not every recipe is a story, but most are.
Recipes are passed down like spells,
the tales of our bloodline.
The specific amount of each ingredient?
Only a myth,
which is its own source of pride.
Counting the heirlooms, I lose my breath
trying to keep count.
I know it is a responsibility; carrying
a family’s history to the present.
To leave a legacy worth retelling.
Something for tomorrow.

4/30: In the Month of April (For Adela)

After Robert Bly

In the month of April, when the rain blesses us,
notice the song it makes. Like today, a chorus
kept me awake. All morning, kept me from dreaming
away the bad news telling us nothing is the same as it was.
I see a world afraid of stillness, asked to be still and hold its breath.
Then I understand— I love you with what in me is still hopeful.

I love you with what in me is unmovable.
So hold my hand in the rain. Hold my hand in the morning.
Hold my hand in Costco. Hold my hand in the dark. Trust me:
in times like these, the only place to be is next to you.
In the early morning hours, we rediscover our arms
as branches, outstretched like the oak tree outside our house.

Just this morning, you wake up before the rain wakes me.
Slide your body out of bed and across the hardwood,
disappearing into the dim blue room. And I am perfectly
still, in a world afraid of stillness, disappearing
back into the subconscious, stretching this simple moment
into a thousand more just like it.

3/30: A poem, with light at the end of the tunnel

Sitting down to write always feels like

giving my memory the keys to the house.

As if, somewhere the real me ends,

And the narrator’s monologue begins.

A voice takes over, calls out from the dark.

A shape takes form, casts a shadow on the page.

A line takes time, craves a place to breakdown.

How I get from here to there is a gateway

only language can open. Afterall, language

is memory, is past tense, as in, the door to yesterday

unlocked. Ring the bell and walk in.

This is the tell, not show. I know

the words to this song. It’s a strange chorus,

but the one I know. Sitting down to write,

I don’t need a map. A path is found in every poem.

I suppose it’s why I let the mind wander like it does.

Dig myself a tunnel. Find light at the end.

2/30: A THOUSAND LITTLE JOYS

I hope you found little joys to celebrate today,
and more than enough reason to smile
.”

– A birthday text sent to me from Ayokunle Falomo,

Every smile has an origin story.
And mine begins with the unexpected gift
of knowing I’ll never be alone.
What a relief,
saying goodbye to the old emptiness,
forgetting what was lost,
holding what stayed,
abandoning grief like a rival
not fast enough to catch
the speed of my joy,
scattering across the April air
like a thousand little black birds.
This gift opens itself up every time
I look up at the sky of my life,
and count how many ways I am loved,
stunned at the simple song of being,
lost in a thousand shining suns.
Light trickles through the space
between my crooked teeth,
staining my bones like glass.

So I’m doing this new thing,
on days other than my birthday,
whenever I need a pick me up,
I open my mouth,
and I fill up the bedroom,
or the kitchen,
or the street,
with a thousand little joys,
with the names of every moment
I ever gave my smile to.

1/30: REASONS TO LIVE

With every effort of my body,
I tried excusing myself from the universe of giving a shit
Thought empathy was something you could exile
a tiny revolution,
so I walked out on my better angels
Stopped writing poems for god knows how long
Reasons to live were everywhere but I missed every invitation
Said tomorrow like a proud martyr
and walked back into my shadow.

And then, one day—
The myth lifted. I found the cure to this virus.
It’s called, I don’t need a reason to ask for forgiveness.
And I don’t have to explain why.
Don’t need to be a witness to my own suffering.
When the past passes me by, I don’t ask it to stay.
I found my purpose in life a long time ago:
To talk.

Survival is nothing like you expect.
I walk my voice into a memory and
A song becomes a time machine.
I go back to who I was
when all I wanted was
to become who I am right now.
Don’t ask me to explain.
I’m too busy
falling in love every day
in a thousand different ways
with the woman who found the soft edges
of my pain, the woman who sparks a smile
through the dark.

I learned, just by picking up the phone,
I can turn my mother’s voice to neon joy
when I call to say I miss her.
I keep getting more and more good news.
My grandma texts me and tells me to say a prayer
over the front door and back door
with olive oil, to bless the body and the house
and god becomes a recipe
I didn’t know I had the ingredients to

I open up the windows to let the breeze in
and laughter from the neighborhood mijos and mijas
spins the wind-chimes on my front porch
until nothing hurts ever again.
The sun sets in front of me when a
cardinal crosses the railroad tracks,
a scarlet red descent into the thick brush,
like a flame that disappears from birthday breath,
carrying a wish I’m not supposed to share just yet.
I wonder, what spirit came to visit me? I cannot say.
All I know is, I missed the universe of my own voice.