A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: downtown houston

16/30: A LUNCH BREAK HAIBUN ON GRATITUDE

Mid-afternoon mischief in the trees. A river of light divides the leaves. Shadows are everywhere the sun is. Downtown Houston is in a dance competition with itself. Music between the buildings. Everything is under construction, even our secret shame. On my feet is where I feel most alive. Inside Market Square Park, every smell is a spell on me. Oak and Maple guardians hold the block in balance. Cross-walk signs light up like a flame. Squirrels stealing the scene. The universe wants to be seen and so does this poem. Lunchtime longing. See the closed sidewalk? Your path has changed. I want the confidence of a building. Whoever said not every moment has a door has never walked inside my brain. Green-grey water waits for me to sail away. I say a prayer the only way I know how. Like the sky is a secret we all get to keep. Underneath trees, I find a reason to stay. I find a home alone, but alive.

Outside, I go, say:
Gratitude
is the only face of god
I know.

 

17/30: SOMEHOW, I KEEP ON LOVING

You don’t walk into the wind, you walk against it
Contrary to the spellbound leaf, thrown around,
lifted up and taken away, unlike you, feet on ground.

Resilient soothsayer, rhythm—with your steps—maker,
Who let the concrete spin the balls of my feet? Ink-blot.
I tip-toe across a puddle and jot down the reflection

The questions I seek are answers in another form.

The wind wants to win but you have legs better than wings.
The rain wants to destroy but all it does is cleanse.
The elements want to touch you then leave, so they do.

But I am tired of losing. Watch me get caught in the rain
with my umbrella hands, malfunctioning inside buildings
I’ve built in my head, opening up, like disbelief in bad luck,

Nothing can hurt me. Not the rain, the gust, rusted lust.
On the highway, a man on a motorcycle zooms past the rest of us
while the storm is rife with hubris, my Uber driver, Asif,

Turns back to me to say, He does not love his life. And for once,
these words do not apply to me. Because I love my life. Yup,
sure do. Sometimes, when no one is looking, I yawp. Foolish talk.

Chalk-teeth. Don’t care if the words will last. I need to speak.
Taking care of my weaknesses like baby teeth, I pull the truth
out of me the same way a knot is untied. Clumsy wrists. Tight-lips.

Walking downtown, I am the furthest from being a leaf.
No, I love my life too much. Exorbitant. Joy, Flood-like.
The last thing I ever want to say will most likely be a

Run-on sentence, chasing the next thought like a promise
I told you’d I keep. Man of my word. I turn sadness into sweet tea.
Have you heard the one about misery? We all need company.

At Phoenicia, one of the chefs and I are friends.
He asks me to call him Abibi. Abibi calls me Cousin-Brother.
He thinks I’m Lebanese, and when I correct him, he says

Lo siento. Then, another time, Adios, Cousin-Brother. Language lessons.
On Sunday, Fi Amanullah, Cousin-Brother. When I ask what he means, he replies
Allah will protect you, then hands me warm shawarma, and I reply,

I’m gonna need all the help I can get it, and it’s true. I take my food, exit,
only to walk against the wind, now knowing, my body is protected.
Nothing about me spellbound or in disbelief. Contrary to the leaf.

26/30: CANDLE LIGHT VIGIL FOR NAPAL, ROOT MEMORIAL SQUARE, WITH A TRUMPET

The breath entering the trumpet
is not the same as the breath
that leaves the trumpet.

The brass body of a trumpet
has the physiology of grief.
Both are an instrument,

Enduring the fractured sickness of breathlessness
until this miraculous sound leaps out, the falling sky
dismembered no more and finally, something broken goes unforgotten.

A black man beneath the green screen paneled gazebo
fills Root Memorial Square Park
with his own-echoed-lung composition.

His breath swam into the trumpet the same way
sadness always enters unexplained, and always, upon exit,
glides through the swamp of ache, finding a way to

Avoid the eulogy of what’s always at stake,
but this week alone, too many of us are losing,
this week together, too many of us have a history of loss.

I speak to a man from Nepal
who gathers with his Nepalese community
to remember too many who have been lost.

He tries to explain the catastrophe
Asks if I know what happened
I want to comfort him with something

More than sympathy, assure him I’ve listened
to NPR, have read the reports but what does
this failed attempt at understanding have to do

With knowledge, with his knowing desecration
of his most beloved, the homeland his heart
occupies outside its own quaking body

The earth dismembered in its
fractured sickness, the toll
of the dead rise but the bodies that remain

Are still trying to sleep
Are not yet done weeping
Are lighting candles for the shadowless.

Here I am, caught in a nation’s weeping
The Spirit of the Hero wants to fill my fingers
but if etymology has taught me anything, it’s this:

All around, flowers, plants, the scene
smiles in green, attests to
the effectiveness of spiting death.

If you listen to the colors of spring speak, they’ll tell you:
Through the history of evolution,
Photosynthesis is the earth asking for forgiveness.