Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: jazz

23/30: the laundry is still not done

It is almost midnight and the laundry is still not done. After another day of law, of living, of language, I am speechless in the twilight of my room. Shuffling across the hardwood in bare feet and flat feet, I grab my phone and choose Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue to fill my room. I sit on my bed and breathe in the Jasmine on yesterday’s wind. I open up a memory like a file folder. Pick up my dirty clothes and put them in a basket. Around my room, I feel the gentle reminder of belonging. Everything has a space or place to call home. Even my dirty socks. Even my dirty thoughts. What I lose in a day is not lost. I am practicing the art of returning. Understanding is a process. Understanding myself is a process. And what is a process but the steps we take forward? The steps we take out of the dark and into the light. I want to walk out of the mirror and hold he who does not like what he sees. In the jazz-filled cathedral that is my room I surrender to you, I surrender all my remarkable pain, I surrender grudges and grief, I surrender the habits that wreak havoc to everyone I love. Self-included. I surrender the guilt that runs like silk through my veins. I surrender this spoiled spool that loves to make a fool of me. Y’all hear that? Bill Evans on the piano. Each key is a soft prayer playing over the speaker. It is almost midnight and the laundry is still not done. I run my fingers through my hair and hang my head in the half-light. I want to get this right. Separating my laundry is a task directly linked to the past, or, the passage of time, or traveling back to the time you wore something else other than skin. All around me lies the evidence of my existence, where I’ve been and what I chose to be seen in. Of course, both me and the laundry are unfinished for a reason. It is almost midnight when I begin to write this poem in my mind. I take my time. I take every line and string it up across the paper sky. I pin word after word against the sun-shined lines. I’m trying to finish what I started, even if the laundry is still not done.

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.