A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: 30for30

5/30: ODE TO SELF DOUBT

I hear you
talking shit.
I see you
in the comment section
of my greatness
Taking up all the space in the room
of my possibilities
As a person
As a poet
As a lawyer
As a husband
As a son.
You never want me to become.
Every day
I see your face
imitating my own,
wearing a crown
of What ifs
Doubt, your majesty,
You are the King of What Ifs!
The opposite of optimism
The opposite of me
Yet you only exist because of me.

But you know,
your voice is the loudest
only because I let it be?
You’re a failed plot, fool.
I’m the proof
Regina Spektor
sang it best
I’m the hero of this story /
Don’t need to be saved

Doubt you’d understand.
This story is mine.
I do the saving,
The swooping in,
The super hero landing!
Like any good antagonist,
you are the reason
I never quit
Arch-nemesis,
I will take every opportunity
to prove you wrong in this old song-and-dance.
Shit-talking self-doubt,
I hear you yammerin’
I know what you’re about.
But if this were show and tell?
I’d be the hammer,
and you’d be the nail.

3/30 – THE CATS MEOW

For the 4 stray black cats Adela and I take care of, Shado, Rogue, Lil Mama, and Chicago

We listen to the sounds of morning
before our coffee
brews the momentum we need to
leap out of bed
The morning storms our senses
Fine-tuning our attention
that always seems divided between
our dreams and newsfeeds

We listen  
Through the windows
over the morning train
over the growl of the neighbor’s leaf blower
over the chirping birds
over the howl of too many alarms
for the cats’ meow—
the simple plea of feed me, human—
has now become the call of duty
I answer.
Ah, nothing like a day that begins
with responsibility
But is love really any different?

Adela opens the backdoor in a sing-song
Her audience sings back
A gentle harmony
A little chorus
composed by
The memory of trust
and
The permission of touch
The cats rush towards the hand that feeds,
Their bright eyes in the soft morning light
Impatient but adorable
And this is how it is
for now.
We listen for the cats to meow
It’s no secret really
Just a fraction of a second
A tiny crevice of a moment
A little pause in this play of life
Where there is a need
and we meet it.

2/30: IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, IT’S FRIDAY, AGAIN (A BIRTHDAY POEM)

I feel it now: there’s a power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world

I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it
All my becoming has needed me
My looking ripens things
And they come toward me, to meet and be met.

- Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of a Monastic Life

I write a poem every year for my birthday
I never know what I’m going to say until I say it
I never know who I’m going to be until I see him
I read between the lines like meaning has a mirror
but it changes every year. 
The art of explaining myself to myself 
is never what it seems to be.
I’m not losing or changing my definitions 
There’s just more meaning to give
the longer I live. 

I know nothing has ever been real without my beholding it


Someone
behold this poem 
until it is real and becoming
like the first days of Spring.

I feel it now, 

the power that slept like a seed
between the wild roots of my being.
It takes time to become who you said you’d be.
There’s a birthday candle on the table
A small fire, my breath, and wishing for what’s next,
My big brother Brent writes in my annual birthday text
	
	You’re as vital as a plant providing oxygen 
	during photosynthesis

One day they will study the biology of a brother’s love.
Oh brother. Oh words—
the gifts that give shape to my world.

I’m reading all the words
coming towards me, to meet and be met
like the words of a song. 

Every year, I’m awestruck
at my unprecedented luck 
in knowing I am loved.
The language of this love puts the poems in my blood.
Oh, the words in my blood are brave and here to stay.

On the day I came into this earth,
I ask the universe with all my earthly yearning
Give me more love than my body can stand.
When the lovebirds sing, tell them I’m listening and singing too.
I’m singing a prayer like a birthday wish, 
the only one I know 
the only I say every year:
Gratitude is the only face of god I know.
If there’s still time, I’ll show you.

1/30: Spirit of My Silence

I wrote more e-mails than poems in the last year.
Now, before the first day of April,
My wife runs her fingers through my hair
Like a rosary
and the spirit of my silence
leaves my body like a phantom
Outside my window,
A single wind chime makes the kind of music
With its body
that I’ve been searching for my whole life

Listen here.

Every sound on Sidney street is a revival
of more reasons to live
Light pools somewhere and everywhere
Stairways to forgiveness
I forget the fate of human kind for one second
A Houston sun cracks every tree
free from darkness
Laughter falls like pollen
The sidewalk
asks me to read another poem
by Ross Gay
and before the end of the day,
I am alight and awestruck
at my luck
at my love
blasting from the speakers
the sound system of spring
a karaoke of divine timing
I mean so many things when I say
I am looking for joy
today and always
The latest and last map of my heart starts with
my 4 year old niece coming to visit me,
Jessi demands we sit outside and take in
the beautiful view
Outside my front door
Where the black cats I’ve come to love run
Faster than the neighborhood
Children can rake the leaves
of their youth
Come on, let’s go.
And so we do
And so it goes
A blue-jay swoops and the train whizzes
Into action
Tejano music grooves
fuses with the smoke
from oak or mesquite
I want to speak the commotion
into a sentence or a lyric
And tell you this is all I know.
The locomotion is a promise made
for giving my attention
to something else besides my e-mail.
This poem is an engine
loud enough
to drown the things I lost
and remind me what I found
I invite the wind of a moment
Into my home
The horizon is a stone’s throw away
from who I was yesterday
By now, I know what I’m here on earth for:

The consequence of living is clear
Time rewinds every time a poem appears.

30/30: AFTER 16 YEARS OF WRITING POETRY, I’VE LEARNED

The poem can wait.
Living is the first draft to master.
Sitting down to write comes later.
A poem happens out of order,
When the door is ajar and the
Muse is asking what is for dinner.
Whether the stove is on depends
how much fire you can walk through.
Memories are sleeping, hungry giants.
You decide what stays, what goes.
The point is—
you have a purpose,
long after the poem is finished,
long before the poem began.

 

29/30: AGENTS OF CHAOS

The hum of the razor
next to my ear sounds
like an army of wasps
taking formation
at the front-lines
of my overdue edge up.
Each follicle of hair
turned Agents of Chaos.
But at least I am growing
in some small way,
silver linings
in the darkness.
My brother Brent
used to cut my hair
for every important
event of my teenage life.
We had the routine.
He’d cut.
I’d clean the hair
and help hold the mirror.
2 all around, then a 1 on the side,
sometimes a taper fade,
but always a fresh fade
to end the day. It was
a way of life. The lessons
I learned in standing still,
watching his hands move
with precision. How the light
had to be just right.

28/30: I’M GOING BACK IN TIME AND IT’S A SWEET DREAM

This is a love poem for my fiancé, Adela.

When I missed you, when we weren’t together,
I would write down song lyrics that made me
think of you. Each a different melody of longing,
a little soundtrack for my loneliness. That was
years ago. And just the other day,
I stare at you
from across the room
of our home
I watch you exhale on the front porch
Dusk before us, the faint
echo of the wind chime
bouncing off the trees
and into the sky. Another song
just for you and me, Adela—
never forget, you are the one
who keeps my heart beat dancing,
the reason I sing. My favorite song
is called Just Being With You.
The Things You Say, my favorite playlist
Your voice, my favorite instrument.

 

 

27/30: THE ROUND ROCK ROLLER RINK

In the hallway of the Men’s bathroom
at the Round Rock Roller Rink, I left
my hand print on the right side of the wall. I dipped my
right hand in green paint. It was a birthday tradition for
anyone who had a party at the Roller Rink.
Underneath your hand print, they write
your name and your birthday.
It was
too much power for the 9-year-old in me.
You can put
your hand on any wall inside the building, a
it’s your call where. Isn’t that amazing?
A place that celebrates you
by giving you a choice
in what to leave behind
for others to find.
The Round Rock Roller Rink no longer stands.
It belongs to the history books.
Like that one time in the sixth grade,
on a Friday night, I danced during
couple skate to Don Henley’s
Boys of Summer blasting
from the speakers next to the scoreboard
used for hockey games, and
my elastic smile
going in circles, balanced
on roller skates, holding the hand
of a girl who held mine back
for the very first time. Those days
are gone forever, just like Don sang.

 

26/30: A STREETLIGHT MEETS AN OAK TREE

Every night, I see the Oak tree across the street
Towering over the houses and the power lines,
pumping light into my heart. After all,
I am a machine. Meanwhile, the Oak
was born where it stands. I know how
different I am from that which
is rooted into this earth. We are both
shadow makers, though,
the Oak was here first.
Elder Oak. All light is
a lesson, though,
we are different students.
I illuminate the dark street,
the sunlight scatters through the Oak.
I am not a home for the wandering Hawk,
the roaming blue jay or tired cardinal, though,
I do want to
We are of two different worlds
living on the different side of
the same street. When the leaves fall,
I feel a longing I cannot name.
I am not a tree,
growing and alive.
I am a machine, designed
to illuminate. I know my fate—
it ends and begins each day, arrive
when the sunsets, leave when the sunrises.
In the in between,
the Elder Oak must sing
a thousand different
songs.

25/30: THIRTY-FIVE INCHES TALL

Jessi picks up a crayon with purpose.
Every color is her favorite color.
She talks a sing-song of thoughts
under her breath,
washing
the white paper sky
ignoring the lines,
she orbits around
with color after color,
determined to create.
I ask her, what she created
and she answers,
This is what I created!
I laugh and tell her to keep going.
It is Saturday afternoon and
Jessi is the color of joy.
We paint the day together.
She asks if I’m going to color
with her,
and I pick up a crayon
like an old friend.
She laughs like a color wheel.
It sounds like my favorite color.
Reminds me of my brother,
her father, and when we were boys,
we would do everything together.
Now his daughter is in my house,
three years old, thirty-five inches tall.