A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: 30 for 30

22/30: EARTH DAY 2020

“I move with the breeze in the trees /
I know that time is elastic”
– Fiona Apple, I Want You to Love Me

The world is not ending. It’s still here
for now. I agree though, its end seems
unfathomable—
Separated from the soil,
collecting tidbits about
the coming extinction,
the fate of the Glaciers,
the disappearing honey,
flowers I cannot name,
all the forgotten scents
saying goodbye to the clean air,
leaving behind the trees,
accepting
the reality of
living
without
what’s always
been.
And then I think
Oh,
god bless
earth-made shade,
my body
alive in the cold springs,
my grandma’s voice
when her garden
is in full swing.
These little things.
How much more time
before nothing is the same?

30/30: “MY HEART, I STILL BELIEVE IN GOD.”

After Shannon Leigh

Wave of sorrow,
Do not drown me now:

I see the island
Still ahead somehow.

– From “Island” by Langston Hughes

My landlocked tongue tucks each destructive emotion
into unopened oceans where hope shipwrecked and did not return.
I have learned to stay afloat by letting the water wash away
most waves of sorrow but some waves are names
reaching for safe harbor like my lips are a lighthouse
but when the crest falls, all I do is flood inside.

Sorrow, you have made me a vessel but can I choose
what I carry?
I’m done committing to the horizon when I am hiding.
I see the island, still ahead somehow.
Not every choice is sink or swim, sink or swim, sink or swim.

Underneath this sorrow and underneath this pain is another wave
The water is so clear I see my face in the sky like another moon
Like another moon, I move the terrible tide on cue,
trying to hide my life beneath blue dreams of silence.
I drop my heart and pick it up like an anchor.
Wave of sorrow, let me follow the wind like a sail
with stories to tell.
I have no lifeboat and no flare.
My lung capacity is a catastrophe.
I hide my tongue from the tide when I know I shouldn’t.
What I choose to carry isn’t supposed to float.
For me, arriving is the same as surviving.
I came into this world, but only after water broke.
All my life I’ve carried an unopened ocean
Tasting the salt of my wounds,
I surrender to the seascape around me.
Nobody’s ever found me in the depths of my defeat.

I’ll deny this ‘til the death of me
but even when I’m sinking
I still believe in anchors.

26/30: POEM BEGINNING AND ENDING WITH SONGLYRICS BY SUFJAN STEVENS

I want to save you from your sorrow

But what if I am not ready?
I’m only brave in the stories I tell.
Everything I feel is a familiar spell.
Everything I feel is a navigable hell.
This sorrow I feel is a charming tale.
I like the plot of my pity.
Some days it’s good to be pathetic.
Misery cannot always wait.
I know my friend Vanessa says,
That there is space for joy
That there is space for pain.
And I believe her, but
Isn’t it easier to be empty?
In the mirror I misplace
my dark honey eyes
in the dim corner where
I choose to lose myself
With no one’s help
but my own.
In the violent silence
of my lonely heavy head
I own my mistakes
with a defeating dread.
In my darkest hours,
I carry deadweight
Like a living history
I want to rewrite.
Should I tear my heart out now?

23/30: AMERICAN SONNET ENDING WITH A LOST KEY

I would like to walk in your mind barefoot
Naked, mouth open. Strange glory of the body,
I ask you protect what I neglect. Here,
your soil is asleep with secrets
I softly wake with my lips. Strange glory
of the dirt, what mad joy you keep alive.
The triumph of where did it go all wrong
Fills the vaulted ceilings of your feelings
Like slow water in a dance hall. Last call
Comes like the last straw and I grab your hand
Like quicksand. Hear me with your whole body.
The secret entrance to our secret selves
Once had a key, but where did we leave it?

22/30: EARTH DAY

Out of my own wilderness I return.
After gathering the shade scattered in the garden,
I want to thank God for the Earth,
Rejoice in the sprawling worth, remembering
Spring as the time I swam and did not sink
Remembering my flintstone feet as a sundial
While I try to see the tops of the redwoods
This earth never once betrayed me
I want to thank God for this

But stop myself

Cause God allegedly gave us earthlings too
And what this earthling does in the dark of night
Underneath the marauding magnolia trees
Maneuvering between the wind as the bayou breathes
Can spring a loathsome wrath against the space we share.
Not enough of us care, even though there are more of us now
Than ever before, and the earth is smaller now than it was,
I can see it in how we look at one another.
But today, I reach for the light.
Out of my own wilderness I return from a hungry loneliness.
Even in loneliness, I have yet to love the light less.
Were it not for the pictures of my grandma’s backyard garden
All over her Facebook wall, it’s possible I’d never forgive myself
for staying inside the house.

14/30: ARS POETICA

I laugh like salsa kisses
My echo is everywhere
I talk like water goes
My voice is survival
I kiss like a cemetery holds
My mouth is a lousy mausoleum
My poems are the flowers
I bring when I forget how to sing
When the dead weeds of my deeds
need to be pulled up, a poem is a
palm in the soil. Does poetry excuse
my dirty hands? All I ever loved
was to try to help everyone, except
myself. Some mornings, the poet
pretends he is a boy again,
watching his words
escape like balloons
he wants to trade in
for hope.
If it comes down to it,
I may say yes to silence.
Most days,
I smile like my poems try to forget.
So I write to leave the door open.

12/30: WITH THE UNIVERSE AS MY WITNESS

After Anis Mojgani

I am invincible
Look at my eyes on no sleep.
My eyes on no sleep still look
you in the eyes 
My eyes on no sleep are so perfect
I’m actually never going to sleep again.
I am invincible. 

Today while walking through the hall,
me and my no sleep eyes
are seen by a pair of kind eyes. 
I am told I am always so smiley. 
I think on it: true. 
Before walking away, 
I say back: It is my gift. 
When I think of my gift, 
I no longer feel cursed.
With the universe as my witness,
I am invincible. 

When I make sweet tea, nothing goes wrong.
One morning, I woke before being told. 
When I am too tired to move
I lay my heavy legs against the floor like
a crested wave reaching the shore
after a long-traveled journey. 
I am invincible. 

Have you ever seen my butt?
It’s organic, makes all my pants panic.
It shoots for the moon and reaches for the stars
because my butt is basically a sky.
Your sky.
I am invincible.

I can make my no sleep eyes cry
if the moment means enough.
I can make any moment mean
enough, just give me the wind, 
or a line in a song, like this one:
your love belongs to everyone 
(Jose Gonzales, Open Book)
or I can look at pictures of my niece
whose cheeks look like Fredericksburg
peaches I would eat with her daddy 
both our sticky hands steady 
through the summers of our childhood
when the two of us would chase 
each other around til our sweat boiled
in the backyard of grandma’s garden
and grandpa’s shed. 
I am invincible. 
Even if my no sleep eyes are small
almonds missing their shot to blossom,
I choose this act, this scene, this line
I thought of without even thinking 
keeps my fingers moving, if I were a bird
you’d call this flying. 

I am invincible.
But I am not invulnerable
Look at the armor around my heart
Look at how many pathways a knife
like guilt could take to prove
I am not invulnerable. When I heal,
I move much too fast. Doctors don’t know
what to do, on account of, I hide the truth.

And the truth is, sometime ago,
I began to preface what I say with 
it’s okay, before the sentence could 
even begin. I reach conclusions in
which I give acceptance I did not ask
for but with reasons I now must defend.
I want to sing, I’ll do anything to be happy
(Noah and the Whales- Blue Skies)
But anything is lazy and I cannot know
the sum of my strength unless I weigh
my weaknesses. 

When I look at who I am in the mirror, I smile
before sorrow can say hello.
This is my gift. With the universe as my witness, 
I am invincible. 

5/30: ON SLOWING DOWN

i.

On test days, mom’s hands
woke up early enough
to build a meal

for me, three chorizo & egg tacos
tucked in foil,
please.
the foil kept the heat
alive long enough inside
our backpacks to eat on the bus.
Mom cooks in her robe,
spoon in hand,
pan on stove,
scrambled yolk.

The spoon yearns for movement,
but speed kills the scramble so mom
goes slow, her wrist
works like visible wind
moving so slow, the moment
is almost a secret. But
I see it.

ii.

it’s been said, I sprint through sentences
with a vicious lack of precision
like my speech is a track meet
except the audience
is the one out of breath
and somehow, I have no feet

it’s been said my voice is a vacuum
where syllables go missing,
where meaning is missed
mostly due to my quicksand
quips, the quivering lips I get
when the words I find are too
heavy to lift

it’s been said, I talk too fast
like my voice is reckless behind the wheel
like my thought-to-talk process
is a banana peel slip!
Witness every listener
hurt their hip against
the cautionary wind behind
each sentence I tea-cup spin.
I remember,
a woman who judged
my poem when I was 18
told me
that if I slowed down,
articulated my words
with the worth
they deserve, then
I’d be heard.
It hurt my
feelings
so I did not listen.

iii.

when I choose to read the poem in Spanish
my voice does not know how to move.
I freeze in the aisles between the letters
Just as I did as a kid, when my cousins
spoke Spanish as fast as light vanished
All I could hear was the dark shadow
Of sound I could not summon.

when I choose to read the poem in Spanish
I sit on the floor of my room with the windows open.
I call for my voice,
the slow breath rises,
not so much pronouncing
the word, but searching
for the light switch
the one my mom turns on
when she’s cooking
eggs in the morning.

30/30

WELL DARLING, I AM LEAVING

Everyone keeps asking where I’m going like I know direction.
I have been lost so many times I forgot what it means to lose.
I may be a story of defeat but that does not mean surrender comes easy.
I’m not leaving, just taking my love with me ‘cause nobody’s gonna stop me.

Not even me. Crowned King of Broken is breaking away from the tyranny
of himself and I can’t wait to rip this skin off and start anew. Spring will
be done soon and when the summer comes, I will remember the nights
where all I had for supper was whatever my mouth tried to swallow.

I have dug teeth into myself, broke into my body like a bar-b-q pit
Ripped the meat clean from the bones, took my heart apart like brisket and chewed the fat with a Texas fury.
No part of me passes through you without taking your tongue too.
That’s why I’m not leaving. I’m just taking whatever the fire didn’t.

I chewed a toothpick until I had to pick the splinters from my teeth.
Spit the soft wood off the tip of my tongue and watched a piece of something vanish.
I have decided to do the same. Most of me anyway is a broke bridge too tired to burn.
After a long while, you forget what you don’t have.

Don’t expect me to arrive anywhere anytime soon.
This Spring has been nothing but knowing a new softness.
You’d be surprised how much my teeth taught me tender
All my mouth ever wants to do is learn to love without having to leave.

But oh, the tongue is a running river that will not stop itself.
I cannot withhold what happens when I tell stories to strangers.
But oh, if all my fury goes forgotten, I swear to lose my taste for rotten meat.
Swear to smile the kind of smile that shows all my teeth, and nobody’s gonna stop me.

7/30

Duke Ellington sang to me about Solitude
all before noon so yes,
it was a good morning.

Before the good morning, I dreamed
I kissed a woman just by saying her name
right. A tongue spellbound by 
the will to not fuck up is 
how I woke up all majestic
in the mouth.
That’s why the blueblonnets
blush like they do. I sing all
spring, That’s why death forgets
for a while.
While death forgets, 
I remember the lyrics.

In my solitude
You haunt me
With dreadful ease
Of days gone by

In my solitude
You taunt me
With memories
That never die

I sing it slow cause I know what it means
to pray to god and have nothing but
jazz make you feel soft
again. And to be soft is to be
sorry for the hard.
And I think that’s significant.

When I drove home after work today
I coulda swore Duke sang to the
sky about solitude too
and God
was drunksad too
so the whole state wept. In other news,
a man on the radio spoke about how
Jesus became God 
simply because the people
said so. Said suicide was
confirmation of what they spoke
that when you kill yourself
and still spill forgiveness
that you become something else.
Holy was what it was.

To speak yourself holy.

So yes,
I had a good day.