Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: houston

17/30: BREATHLESS, I READ A POEM UNDERNEATH THE POET TREE

I ask my body to move, and it moves.
I tell my legs to open their stride, and I glide in the wind.
I beg my breath to stay in control, and my life doesn’t end.

Do I need anymore evidence that I am alive?

Oh, sun. I give all my gratitude to your Tuesday evening gradient.
I repent for all the times I second-guessed your radiance.
Oh, sun. I bet all you ever wanted was a captive audience.

Sweating at sunset, I run with my head held to the sky.
The way my heart knocks against my chest, you’d think
my bones were a microphone.

The faster I move, the more pain I see in my rearview.
I’m not running out of time, I’m running through it.
With miles to go, I surrender to the sky’s invitation.
A voice whispers in the distance and it sounds like
my voice, but six seconds in the future. I’m chasing
the part of the story that has been untold for centuries.

Breathless, I become a disciple of stillness. Still,
I miss what it means to call the chaos home.
Along Buffalo Bayou trail, I catch my breath and lean against
a tree where all the leaves are poems, and
the way my heart knocked against my chest, you’d think
my bones were a microphone. I stand beneath the Poet Tree,
and read the tiny poems that hold so many voices inside.

Reading each poem to myself, I ask the words to hold me,
and they do.

1/30: IT IS WHAT IT IS

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.

26/30: WHILE SHOPPING AT H-E-B

A little boy walks by the orange juice,
proceeds to shout “Dad! We NEED Orange Juice.”
A little boy walks up to me while
I confirm the integrity of the eggs,
his small voice grows beanstalk raises to my ears,
his face at my knees asking,
Are you a stranger?
I look at him, grab my eggs,
whispering back without a crack,
Yes.

Let me enjoy the mystery
I’m disappearing into the bread aisle
where everything rises, turning sharply
to look for candles, I nearly hit an older man
and I apologize, say,

Sorry Sir, I was coming in hot.

He apologizes back, adds in,
I was like that when I was your age,
I lose my breath at his sincerity,
the ever fond reminisce happening
in aisle six. But before I leave,
I say to him,

Well then, I’m in good company.

Then I abscond onto the olive oil,
soil of my growing appetite,
my absolute delight, the effortless
sweep of the wrist when I’m
cooking with rhythm,
and what are you
but another instrument?
look at all I can do with
a bottle of you?
Parts of you needing me,
me needing you, yes,
this constant need
to invite others in
has become such a gift.

When preparing to examine the apples,
an employee grabs each spoiled, rotten
apple and tosses it away, and I think
how hard of a job that can be.
Who is to say what is unworthy?
But he moves with confidence,
rubbing his hands across the
jazz apples, honey crisp, pink lady,
gala, granny smith, and he is making
my life so easy, it’s lovely. I’m so tired
of picking over the dead, of losing before
I even begin, and I am more thankful
for him than I’ve been of myself.
What’s with this strange history of mystery?
After I’m done marveling, I ask of him,
Are you tossing out all the bad apples?
He doesn’t say a word, just keeps tossing apples
and I think this has something to say about
the invisible work most people do,
the kind of effortless
that took so much effort
to perfect. I mean, to me—
this is a miracle, and honestly,
Who am I to deny the gospel
of gathering all the bad apples
which just happens to be
happening in a grocery store?

24/30: HAIBUN FOR SUNDAY

Sunday morning, light pours through the open blinds. Birds with no names play their song for me. The ball of my body unraveling. Still small, but growing. the soft white sheets my mother bought me hold my warm morning skin. Soft feet. Soft light. soft blades spinning above my head, cool air moving. 8am stillness. No sound interrupts the silence. Alarm goes off, but no need to hurry. Changing positions, I pick up my body. The first thing I do is walk through a door, a hallway, another hallway, another door. Outside. The first big breath I take happens slow. Slow enough, I am only focusing on my breath. Invisible movements. From where I stand, green pine trees overshadow the magnolia next to my house. A spider spins a web from a tree to a roof. The web is a line designed with other lines in mind. The alive lines holding onto dead things. Green journal, black pen. I grab both with my hands. A poet spins a poem from his mind. The poem is a web of lines. I write, I write, I write. The language of the living praising the dead. Walking around making sounds in my head. Wind moving the leaves. My blood moving through me. Bells designed to ring at once. Yes, I am a vessel. The depth of what I carry, less scary than before.

The world is a con-
founding web of lines I try
but never avoid. 

19/30: SESTINA FOR THE GOOD SAMARITAN

St. Martin Caballero also known as St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of those in need. He usually shown in the act of cutting his cloak in half and offering a piece to a mostly-naked beggar crouched below him, who later appeared to him in a dream as Jesus Christ. Because of this, he is called on by those who need the assistance and kindness of strangers. The Saint is often referred to as the “Good Samaritan.”

The Good Samaritan just collapsed. 14 inches in 12 hours. A woman saves
her family by emptying the refrigerator, crawling inside the ice box, flood
water mocking her, but this is how one avoids death. The duty to change
is the duty of survival. A man slays his family, then himself. Give me pleasure.
I am under no illusion. I know how a thing becomes ruined in the wash, how time
thrashes like a wound in lime juice, the touch of jalapeno seed against your eyes,

As if another excuse to weep was needed. The world is greedy with my breathing, eyes
paralyzed by the damage we create, stunningly sad. Terror is honey for the bees. Who saves
the bees? The ways we kill each other. The knives we hide in our words, weapons old as time
as original as rhyme. The darkness cannot be locked up, says the bayou after the flood.
So who wants to swim in the mud of love? Our bodies drowning in pleasure,
forgetful of what we’ve lost, remembering what we’ve won. The world is afraid to change

The Good Samaritan has awoken. He anticipates needs, green thumb, tends to change
moment into miracle, sees the grief in the beggar, stares down loneliness with both eyes,
The prayer in his voice akin to the promise we give our lover, the lies we tell for pleasure.
Do not forsake the world, my love. The best is yet to come. It will get better. Time saves
the best bite for last. But, too many are swallowed whole, disappearing beneath the flood,
fishing in the mud of love. Opaque ache for bait. Tossed into the deep end. Is it time?

Your best is good enough. Your open heart is actually a gift, and now is your time.
Open it. Harvest happens first in the eyes, beginning the search for change,
Then by touch. Palms a precise kind of pull. You are not rotten because the flood
forgot to leave. Deadwood and oak, choked, but not defeated. Keep your eyes
tenacious, impatient. If the tree doesn’t have fruit, rip it up. If the world saves
itself, can I go back to bed? Look at this weather. The Good Samaritan is tired of pleasure.

I know not how to build or fix. I am not content with my fate–plate full of pleasure,
Cruel hunger, my appetite numbs. The child in me wanting seconds, my hands time-
tied, tongue lying out on the road, heirloom I’ve groomed like a cure. Pleasure kills, saves,
sends waves. Orgasms to bridge the chasm, to cross what we’ve lost off with a kiss. Change
is a strange prayer. Indifference is a virus, Please, somebody look inside my eyes
without seeing the flood.

The Good Samaritan is in love with everyone. I know the trouble before flood,
everyone’s secret is the same. We all want someone to say our name, simple pleasure,
simple song, familiar longing. Am I wrong to want kindness to blind both my eyes?
Come in, come in, come in. I’m opening my heart up like a gift, and now is your time.
Both the drowning man and the man in ecstasy throw up their hands. I refuse to change
my dance. Touch is a song in my hand. Sing with me, the Good Samaritan says, as he saves

The best part for last. Spring in his eyes. It is time
to forget the flood, cruel hunger of the sky, tongue tied to pleasure.
Alive in the love of mud. The duty to change is strange, but oh—how it saves.

30/30: FAITH IS A DARING EXPERIENCE

We had a catholic service
for my Uncle Jesse’s funeral.
And I was a pall bearer,
which means I carried his body
which means I carried his casket
which means he really did kill himself
which means he really did want to leave
and I felt weak in my strength.
But the priest who spoke at the ceremony,
did so about the soul, about its longings,
how death perplexes, but faith persists.
Actually, I believe his exact words were,
“Faith is a daring experience.”

28/30: AND ONE FINE MORNING—

In front of me is a poster of Gatsby’s silhouette,
reaching for love’s green light lost across the bay,
and this image is made with every word
from his most famous novel,
and I can feel the
length of my own famous longing curl with my spine
each morning I rise, tomorrow is already
showing in the way my ribs do after I
turn to the other side of myself, after I
breathe deeply, the way April does with the rain.
It’s funny how every motion forward takes me
both further and closer to what I am.
Listen,
love’s green light across my own stormy bay,
the moment you see my outstretched arms,
know,
it will not last.

25/30: RIGHT SIDE OF THE DIRT

What’s really unbelievable is that
Chinese alchemists, who in all historical likeliness,
were men,  had to draw a brainstorming map once,
write a to-do list, had breakfast meetings,
together, in a room, and ultimately,
Gave themselves directions
on how find and brew and intermingle
all the elements necessary to create
the elixir for immortality, which they
probably intended to drink, obviously.
Had a plan to outmaneuver death!
To stay on the right side of the dirt!
They say it was supposed to be the great last trick of the alchemist!
Then, the sparks began to flower.
They discovered gunpowder.

22/30: EXPORTING EMPORTMENT

Please tell me how to never fall apart.

I think the birds coo
in their bird language
along with me
in mine
to the post-storm sky
that grounded the
both of us for days.
Truthfully, I am alone
and the air is sweeter this way.
The best part of my day is
being unsurprised
at the number of new flowers
now belonging to me.
I tell myself,
don’t forget
renewal
is all
about remembering
If timing is everything,
the exception is love.
Ugh.
Right?
Love is human like me
because like me, love is both
precocious and stuck in traffic.
If I check the record, no one’s
ever been on time with
a haunted heart.
Embrace the meantime, then.
Meanwhile, the mass of what
I miss can corrupt
anyone’s favorite color.
The point of life is to
spite disappointment.
Believe in the spectrum of disruption.
The precision of loss
is a fallacy.
The second serving
means you thought
you needed more
and you did.
Falling apart is stupid but
inevitable.

If you believe in anything
wholeheartedly
then fractions don’t apply,
being less than
is the epitome of fiction
Because you said so
Because self-assurance
manifests, nonetheless.

The gorgeous yawp of the soul
goes right pass the lips.
Say,
you know what an
osculary is?

21/30: PEABODY PEABODY JOE

Legend has it
Peabody Peabody Joe
sprung up
from the dirt
on a Sunday
and survived
on peanut butter
sandwiches
for years.

Peabody Peabody Joe
could catch
a catfish fastest
His secret bait:
Extra Crispy
Bacon.

Peabody Peabody Joe
rode a bicycle
for fifty miles
with two flat tires
but
Peabody
don’t stop
when stop
makes sense.
Peabody
was in love
maybe.
They say
Peabody Peabody Joe
never missed
a birthday,
Peabody Peabody Joe baked
a cake a day.
Peabody Joe
kept candles
in his pockets
but always
went swimming
anyway
especially
on the fourth of July
Peabody Peabody Joe isn’t American
but he is the every man
the way he
ate a steak
the way he
watched the
sunset
Peabody Joe
didn’t know any
better
Peabody Joe
had a wild mouth
but spoke slow
cause his tongue
pretty much was
peanut butter
but what are
you going to do
language is
sticky