I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: 1/30


“I wish I could tell you this story without being in it.”
– Michael Rosen, from Gaslighting in Several Parts

In the spirit of honesty, I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. Driving down I-10, the Texas sun writes the constitution of the sky. In my mind, another sky awaits my fate. On the side of the road, the colorless carnival or carcasses steal the bluebonnet joy of Spring as if grief ever had a season where it did not bloom. The song I’m singing is not exactly a prayer. In the air, a Committee of Vultures rise bright above the montage of Oak trees. As for me, I’m trying to raise my voice in this dungeon where I am. I spy a reason for living where death is a sanctuary. Death is a kettle. Death is the horizon above our eyes, where vultures circle the dead like a black Ferris Wheel alight in the sky. Whoever killed the monsters in my head left the meat on my memories. I’m waiting for the Committee to decide my fate. I’m curious if, each time I revisit the past, a vulture takes flight? My friend Michael reminds me there are stories I wish I could tell without being part of them. That I can’t just drown the past in a lavender bath. When the vultures of my mind finally swoop down to the ground, their bodies are furious and free. I’m not so sure I can say the same for myself. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve never buried the memories that kept me suffering and alive. What I’m trying to say is, there are vultures in the sky of my mind. Aren’t my memories a carcass by another name? I have a million stories where I am not the hero nor worth saving. Trauma tells but does not teach. Please don’t tell the vultures I’m here—all alone in my head, rotten and writhing—like I’m waiting for some bird in the sky to eat the idea of me like an elegy waits on the other side of my wake. Every day, I hold a wake for who I was and who I could have been. When the boy inside me lost his innocence, it was a life sentence. Sometimes I thank God I am not him. Why must I be a witness to my horrible history? The Bluebonnets come alive every Spring because it is a ritual. When someone dies, the family displays the body like a shadow everyone can all touch. A goodbye ritual. A wake. Have you ever seen group of vultures feed on a carcass together? A goodbye ritual. A wake. Ever confuse mythology for biology? It is a mistake to think every god-forsaken trauma entrenched memory is something we cannot help but inherit. What I mean is, driving down I-10 and seeing the vultures patrol the sky, I realized it is a blessing to know there is another creature who only survives on suffering alone. But in the spirit of honesty, I only have time for joy. Spring brings so many things back to life, I can’t help but smile at the power of wildflowers. I’m too sensitive not to smile at the sunshine. Even if there are shadows in the sky, I still choose to try. In the spirit of honesty, this song I’m singing is a prayer. I say, raise your voice in this dungeon where I am and a laugh blooms on cue from the woman I love. And I cannot allow myself to be destroyed.


This line is late. Weeks overdue. None of my thoughts are new. It is what it is.
The laws of loneliness are fixed stars in my constitutional constellation.
I am most free in a dream where I outdo death. Sleeping, the dreamy version of me drags his feet across the tops of the peculiar pine trees pissing off the power lines. When I say I am most free, I hope you hear how little I hold. I was told to put a pot on the past, Wait, then laugh at the steam. Levitate, levitate, levitate. This earthbound body comes dressed in stubborn smoke. In this song of hope, every lyric is moonbound. Name a scar the sky cannot solve. Spring has sprung on schedule but no one is here to smell the jasmine breeze with me. The moral of this moment missed its deadline.
Whether or not my faith blossoms, the season to show up has arrived. April can be the cruelest of dance floors, but today I abandon the rules of gravity-disguised-grief. For the sake of my ankles, do not ask me about anchors. Give me balloon bravery. Can I be a kite the sky keeps? I wish I had more to give than just my body. To date, Ask any woman I loved if I’m down to earth. They’ll tell you how I write poems for, to, or about the sky, but never for, to, or about them. I wish I had more than hurt to hem for them, but to tailor the terror of my affection is a lesson I left behind in the grinds of midnight. Reading Robert Bly aloud, I say, is there enough left of me to be honest now?
I’m afraid the answer lies, inside my body, scraping the paint off my walls.
Nobody but me can fix the hollow frames of the rooms I groom my shame in.
Hesitate. Hesitate. Hesitate. I place the sky back inside myself. Like a Magritte brush stroke, I am most free when I break all the rules of my body. In a dream, I raise my arms like wings though I do not move them. What happens if I never wake? The word I’m looking for is transcend. Yes, watch me transcend into some moonbound mystic meant to illuminate the intricate energy of the universe with every poem I visit. If love asked me to say her name, I’d say I am not ready. No, I haven’t failed at love. I haven’t succeeded either. If love asked me to let go, I’d hesitate. Inside my head, Ghosts of lovers leave their names in my throat like an anchor I didn’t ask for.
It is what it is.


Lemon tart to start,
brass manifesto for lunch,
sunlight whispering
touch me, touch me, touch me,
though glass windows.
This life is enough, this lie is enough, is,
i.e., no, no, no
who is there to trust?
i.e., no, no, no, not who, but what,
what is there to trust?
Lost body of lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
I know my heart, your heart
may be long winded, but
the war within has ended
all of us have won
you now have permission to
lift your heads
The war within is won.
Do you see what I see?
The gold spun sun spins
while we sit on our hands
to relearn our stillness,
even our sins sit in silence,
silenced by the lineless pink brushed sky
speaking in another language, and this is
no good time to talk, so I am listening,
no longer lifeless, but a lightweight, as in,
I curve around the dark without so much as a sound.
Just your friendly neighborhood noiseless witness
shucking the dusk, trying to steal the miracle
of any moment slow enough to reveal itself.
Do you hear what I hear?
The voice of my dreams is a soft stream of hushed light.
I break out into a peal of commotion, like I’m in concert
with the cathedral bells downtown, performing in free-fall.
Lost body of lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
When I think translation, I hear misunderstood.
I think misunderstood,  I see the invisible cost of loss
lure me back into conversations
where all I do is crawl beneath the
Lost body of a lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
Is it so bad to be half-made of worry and honey?
Do not talk to me about half-truths when your mouth is full.
My mother texts me to say, mijo, you are blessed—
don’t ever question it, referring to the ways in which
I keep arriving, the path in front of me, paved by
the sleep I do not get, labored by the hands that
do not quiet, cannot quit, only furiously stick to the
changing script, shuffling papers like the spirit
of the hero following my fingertips, realigning lines
until my finger print is fine print, wishing for someone,
anyone brave enough to read the sentences I’ve written,
to bear witness to the way I have reshaped the invisible
back into instruments, until the first thing I hear is
the story of your bravest moment, when fear stopped
being so mysterious, when you yourself learned the
definition of ephemeral, how eternal things are unchanged facts,
how you are not ephemeral, not a disappearing act, not a
Lost body of a lost boy lost by the majesty of it all.
Don’t ever question that the first of you is the last
of something extravagant [synonym for generous]
opposite of meager, [your survival is never an understatement]
You can stop hiding from yourself
is the last prayer I whisper when I pass a mirror.
This is how I define radiate.
This may come as a surprise to some, but
you don’t have to hear your heart beat
to know you are alive. No, no, no—
I’m not trying to prove the truth to you.
I’m simply trying to say,
you don’t have to be afraid
of what the truth will do to you.




Did I tell you about the cardinal
in my backyard?
I saw a bright red body leap from the ground
and didn’t think it looked so tough.
Thought of my heart, thought of how hard
it is just to pick up the pieces, but
did I tell you about class last week?
I ask my students to read their poems
out loud to one another.
A student asks me what it means
to be vulnerable and I am not afraid
to tell her the truth.
She tells me she’s only
nervous in front of one person,
whispers his name because it
is still soft and simple, and I can’t remember
the last time I whispered a name like good news.
Did I tell you about the good news?
Cindy Phan is going back to Vietnam.
Cindy Phan is my barber and she calls me handsome.
Cindy Phan hasn’t seen her family in six years
Cindy Phan crossed the ocean because
she was sick, and now she is better.
Did I tell you about the time I got better?
Oh, it wasn’t very extravagant.
Everyone just said they loved me
and meant it.


Every day is a poem when you smile at strangers.

I am a poem today, tomorrow too, and suddenly
smiling is to sun is to Texas is to sweat. Lip
sweat means I’ve been speaking or singing
or confusing the two, and that is a poem

Every place is your shower 
as soon as you start to sing
I hate that when people are asked if they like to sing,
they say only in the shower. When they really mean
only when I control the drowning
only when the bathwater is listening
only when the water is my own wonderful
as if this world did not weep seventy percent
of its life. 
as if our bodies were not stifled with the sea
the moment our mothers saw our fathers sweat
in the Texas heat, which is a smile, which is
proof that the body does not sing when it
is supposed to, but when the water in us
sets and we feel the sweat announce itself
as surrender. 

Every day is a poem when you smile a song
in the shower of South Congress and Riverside.
I am sweating and not sorry because
it has to happen like this. 

Water went through me
Wet me with the wonder
that was my own. Oh it’s happening again.
The songs are smiling, I am sweating
surrender. The day, which is a poem,
is asunder with symphony. Are you
Tell me,
What stone sunk before me
and what self came up