A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: language

29/30: THE BRICKS WE KISS WITH

If my mouth has a roof, then my tongue is a one story house. If my tongue is a one story house, then I must’ve built this house from the ground up. Must’ve poured wet cement like saliva each time I stepped on a stage. Must’ve been my way of building a home with the sheen of spit shining between the gap in my two front teeth, my two strongest bones. But this tongue is a soft home built in the long heat.

When I was young, my voice must’ve churned pieces of earth with water, and nothing or no one told me I was becoming stronger than concrete just by speaking. No, my tongue is not a hard house. But even silence can turn a soft home violent. I’ve seen silence become broken glass, a window smashed without reason. I want to speak without destroying. Even still, my hands have sometimes been hammers, even if my teeth refuse to be nails. Never in my life laid a foundation with my own two hands. Only spoke and spoke and spoke.

But let me tell you what I know about construction, about the Mexican men who stand on the skeletons they build, drinking cold beer in the afternoon, soon saying goodbye to the empires they’ve built. Kings of Creation. The sweat of their pride shining like the spit off my lips when my tongue lifts. And for a moment, their hot hands are not hammers, just hands, and their hands simply hold a cold promise like smoke in the lungs of the sky. Thinking of what I’ve held, I know

I’ve never laid a foundation, but I trust in the structures that refuse to sway. I know of the proud bodies we cling to, the flesh we confuse for walls that refuse to crumble, and how Mexican women were refuges for me as a boy, teaching me how to secure, how to stay, how to feed everything but the hurt. Sometimes, my mother would dig her teeth into my skin until I could see the imprint. My grandma too. The love in their mouth building a home in my bones, laying a foundation with each time she’d say, You are mine. Don’t you get it? My tongue is a home

I have inherited. The imprint, the scar tissue, the lessons—these are the bricks they lick their lips with, and this is the beginning of my tongue’s existence. A house I didn’t even mean to build. I must’ve learned to pour cement because I was searching for more, because there is always room for more, even if we have to build it back from scratch.

I take it all back. I am done with destroying, done with escaping, done with defiance. Because if my tongue is a house, then what are words, after all, but guests? And if words are guests, then all of this empty space makes sense. I’m not alone. I’m just waiting. Building suspense. The emptiness has a purpose. I am remembering all the guests I’ve let in, both those who did not want to stay, and all the ones that did. After all—

aren’t the names of our stories our favorite words anyway? This house is not meant for me. What I’ve confused for emptiness is just a room for you, precious guests. Here, take my breath. Here is my bed, a place to rest your head.

My tongue is a house, and at night, all the words are asleep. Sometimes, eight, or ten to a bed. Their feet opposite their heads, like me as a boy crowding in with my brothers and cousins, our little tongues little houses that were built with kisses and bricks. My tongue is a home, which means, I finally finished what I started. You, all my guests, are family. Come, come, come inside. The pleasure is mine. Meanwhile,

Outside, in the springtime silence, my friend Michael, opens his tongue like a house, separates his hair with his hands like a curtain letting light in, when he tells me of his travels in India, the places he’s been, the people that fed him, the houses he entered with invitation, the stories he stepped into, and when he was through, he looked at me, and whispered — In India, they told me, the guest is God. And isn’t it just like God, to take your breath with a word?

25/30: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A word is a soundless bird with no wings
escaping
the tree of your throat, back into the forest’ soundscape,
a pummeled plumage merging
into the natural traffic of the air, invisibly
weaving,
sound into thought. Feathered letters
teaching
Yours truly how to flock symbols into sentences,
acapella fella
Banging his lips like cymbals, & like most instruments,
ignoring the tremble that follows. Listen,
Even a wind chime swoons gentle, until
a crooning feast reaching.
I am learning your favorite sounds
never actually touch the skin,
only whisper against it,
almost a missed kiss,
a bird landing on your chest the same way
words absorb breath.

Listen.

When a word is a soundless bird,
your voice begins to float next to your body,
Sound leaves the ground, letters spin ‘round,
your mouth like a carousel of consequence,
each time you speak, a soundless bird leaves,
shaking the branches
Stuck in the tree of your throat.

I’m learning the root of what I have to say
stayed inside for so long,
it forgot how to sing.
This is me remembering
tracing the root of my pain,

Listen for
the little linguistic caress,
little kiss of my breath.

Didn’t you notice
the bird on your chest?

14/30: G-E-N-E

In the third grade, I beat Paul Veray
in the Spelling Bee Championship
inside the gymnasium at Gattis Elementary.
The word was Gene, and instead he spelled
J-E-A-N, didn’t even misspell the word,
just mistook Jean for Gene, misplaced the n
confused the the g for a j, and the a for an e,
Paul, I’m sorry.
Both language and genetics can be awfully tricky

It is a homophone
Homo: Meaning Sam
Phone: Meaning Voice
When two or more words have the same voice,
but different bodies.
We were studying them all semester
and if I knew anything at the age of eight,
it was how to be two things at once,
you know,
how to sound the same but come from a different place,
though,
I did not need language to teach me such a trick
I knew how to be the sound of what you thought,
and yet, to mean more than what you meant.

G—E-N-E,
short for genetic,
as in the kinetic energy moving through your blood
with so much potential,
the flood of who you will be
is breaking the levy,
the flood of what who were
has finally run out of room.
Inside of me, genes reach back to grab me,
like the hot sun of my mothers tempered tongue
My blood bubbling like caldo,
slowly, the confusion let’s go,
My body is a homophone
for the people that live in me
I am my own cast, my own show
But the voice, it is the same,
like your favorite song,
the best parts of me never change.

When
I talk to strangers,
I am my mother’s tongue
trying to learn their names
When I am tired,
I am my fathers nine iron,
still swinging
When I am sad
I am my grandfather’s
hushed prayers when
saying grace,
lifting myself up with
the word,
the word of someone
of God of language
I am my own god of language,
rewriting the alphabet with
the genes I keep receiving
I am re-made, turning into
another, becoming myself
through others, discovering
the recipes of my identity
by tracing
what stays the same.
My voice is not a choice,
when someone walks into my home
I open my arms like
both my grandmothers
open the fridge of their hearts,
the potential energy of a meal
is made kinetic,
your genes are prophetic,
how can the blood in you
not be poetic?
When I think I want to quit,
I am my both my grandfather’s
knuckles,
turning bricks into houses,
My friends ask for my advice,
the only voice I hear is my
mother, my father,
the chorus blurring
into a script I’ve always been written in.
When I need to work harder,
I become my brother’s
double-shift hustle,
the cross-over sweat
until I am nothing but net, and
the need to serve moves through
me like a migrant looking for
a field to put his feet in.
I used to think
my body was a family
I was too afraid to raise,
but my family raised
my body,
stirred my voice
like a sentence until it was finished,
until it was the same sound
as those who came before me.

6/30: IF YOU CHANGE ONE LETTER

If you change one letter,
lonely becomes lovely.
When I say cast a spell,
I want you to misspell
the ugliest word
you have called yourself.
Misremember its parts,
take power by the syllable
Grab a letter by its throat.
Every word ever spoken
stays invisible unless written.
Name the shadows in the dark.
Pick your tongue up like an ax.
No, your tongue is an ax.
No, your tongue is a tongue.
Sling the word you have reshaped.
If you change one letter,
wanting becomes waiting.
If you add one letter,
heart becomes hearth.
If you add one letter,
star becomes start.

The beginning is always like this,
metamorphosis through addition,

Listen, each word nothing more
than invention, invocation, invitation.

Again, again, again, my tongue spins
a sentence, a spool of creation,

Silkworm imitation.

Yes, your tongue is silk with blood
Alive with the words you’ve drug
through the mud of love, erasure
is a patient process.

A word, like any earthly body,
must erode, if only to grow again,

Must end in flames, if only to begin.

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?

19/30: THIS IS A POEM

This is a poem about the heart.

Alight
Aflutter

This is a poem about the lover.

Tender
Together

This poem about the mouth.

Effervescent
Exit

This is a poem about laughter

Grasping
Glory

This is a poem about the truth.

Unconditional
Unforgotten

This is a poem about the poet.

Searching
Surreptitious

This is a poem about forgiveness.

Cautious
Calamitous

This is a poem about anger.

Work-brittle
Workable.

This is a poem about failure

Required
Rejectamenta

This is a poem about sex.

Hello
Honesty

This is a poem about debt.

Silently
Swallowing

This is a poem about death.

Vulnerable
Violent

This is a poem about loss.

Quickly
Quivering

This is a poem about brutality.

Institutional
Indifference

This is a poem about solitude.

Mysteriously
Mine

This is a poem about belief.

Yelling
Yearn

This is a poem about touch.

Narrating
Nearness

This is a poem about doubt.

Persistently
Present

This is a poem about strength.

Baffling
Benevolence

This is a poem about listening.

Orgasmic
Osculation

This is a poem about joy.

Furthering
Formidability

This is a poem about commitment.

Joined
Joy

This is a poem about accountability.

Divest
Dejection

This is a poem about loneliness.

La Luz
Longing

This is a poem about patience.

Zodiac
Zinging