Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: NAPOWRIMO15

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.

23/30: PART ONE

At first,
You don’t cook out of love.

You cook out of necessity.
If the body is a temple,
The gospel is grocery shopping.
You cook what you can
depending on what you have
but mostly you cook
for hunger
because you are hungry
because none of your brothers are home
you are six and alone
the apartment is dark
like the false concept of manhood
Your mom is working late
Your mom has a date
with a man
and your brothers fight
like men
but you are six with nothing in your stomach.

The expression
“Close mouths don’t get fed”
assumes food is on the table
Ready to eat
You want to cook, to take
something fresh and
turn it anew with purpose.
Or maybe it’s more simple.
The free lunch at school was too predictable
but at least it’s breakfast, at least it’s lunch.

You cook
because your hands have the tendency
to create, the repeated history of
obnoxious disobedience runs
through your bones but
have you ever trusted
a cast-iron skillet
with all your might,
ever felt the quiet organization
of what you want turn soft like
onions sautéed in slow sugar
like the moon moments before total darkness
ever felt the pang of craving
turn you into a creature caught
in the ritual of rising steam,
ever put a plate
in front of a room full of people
feel the silence boil over brilliant
ever see the meal disappear
along with the legacy of growling,
which chooses
to crawl through bodies without apology
as if the mouth is no place for forgiveness.

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?

20/30: THE FRAGRANCE INSIDE MY CHEST

I hear you say things before you say it

Translation:

I can make voices in my head.

Translation:

There are voices inside my head.

Translation:

Get out.

Translation:

You left me, why do
you refuse to give
back the key, which
doesn’t actually fit
to my heart, but that’s
not the point, the point
is what you break each
time you enter without
telling without asking
without every lasting
why don’t you ever last
why do I ask questions
I know the answer to
why am I writing a poem
with you as the only character
why have I broken the
fourth wall if there is a fourth wall

Translation:

Yesterday I broke
the wall in my head
when I walked past
a wall of flowers
all called Jasmine
and Jasmine is mine
and Jasmine is a
house-guest who
smells like forgiveness

Translation:

So that’s what the
fragrance inside
my chest is called

Translation:

I have to lie down
if I think about
the weight of what
goes unsaid in my head

Translation:

Doubt endangers salvation.

Translation:

Self-Renewal
is the second name
of Spring.

17/30: A BRIEF ANNOTED LIST OF THE QUESTIONS MY STUDENTS ASK

Question: Mr. Zachary, is this poem good?

Translation: Last week, we learned what rejection meant.
I do not like the definition of that word. Is there anything
wrong with what I feel? Am I good enough? Nobody ever
listens to what I have to say. Last week, we learned what
worthy meant. I want to mean worthy.

Question: Mr. Zachary, does this poem have to rhyme?

Translation: If there are rules, I don’t want to break them.
I just hate when language has expectation. I don’t want
to be expected.

Question: Mr. Zachary, do I have to read this poem out loud?

Translation: I’ve never trusted my mouth. Inside is a voice I am
afraid to let out. Who is going to listen to me? What do you mean
the stage is mine? What do you mean I can command an audience
just by speaking?

Question: Mr. Zachary, what if we don’t know what to write?

Translation: How does anyone ever say what they mean? Self-
Expression is confusing. How can I matter just by saying so?
If I have a story, you mean I have to write it? I don’t want to say
what I have to say. You mean someone is listening?  I don’t think
so. No one wants to know what’s inside my head. Not even me.

 

16/30: IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER, PLEASE DON’T GUESS.

Outside,
Lightning is all the sky talks about
Houston has a clapping chatter mouth,
bayou tongue, thundering teeth.
I drive by a series of buildings all dark
except the dance studio second-story window
where I see an elderly couple
waltzing
alone
together—
so this
is the face of love’s
rhythm after it has grown?
I am almost crash the car
in a flash of grace.
I’ll never be the same.
The rain makes it so easy to fall apart.
Stay inside of yourself.
The trees flurry with reason
Weather is all about rhythm
Nothing trembles for trembling’s sake
I can sleep through thunder
I can dream through thrashing
Why is nobody impressed?
What’s left of my body besides
the crumbs of love?
If you don’t know the answer,
please,
Don’t guess.

15/30: THE AUTHOR IS A LAW STUDENT IS A POET IS NOT AFRAID

After Angel Nafis’ “Gravity”

Are you going to get a job How much debt are you in How do you ever have
time Won’t you lose your soul What type of law will you pursue Isn’t the Justice
System Broke Are you going to get a job Aren’t you lonely Doesn’t the work
seem impossible What if you fail What if you fail What if you fail What if
What if you hate your job How will you make a difference You know lawyers
are really good at killing themselves Are you going to kill yourself Why
aren’t you raising your voice Why are you so calm How can you be so happy
You mean you’re not worried at all How do you have any time to write poems
Why don’t you just be a poet But how will you get a job Isn’t poetry dead
Isn’t poetry dying Why do you keep writing How do you ever have time
Aren’t you lonely with all those words Isn’t language big Why are you smiling
Why so grateful How is it you get out of bed every morning How do you care
about people so much How is it you are okay with being wrong How is it
you are lost and calm How How How

How do you have
more energy
than
god

II.

And behind this door, lies the energy of god. The door is my mouth.
Odd isn’t it. I crack a smile, and shadows turn gold. Darkness
knocked-out. I jab with joy. I run the religion of It’s All Good. Nobody
should be this bright. But I ain’t nobody. See my thighs? Christmas trees.
See this face? A night-light. My heart is a furnace full of faith. Watch.
I make the stars Yo-Yo just by picking my nose. Watch. I create without waste.
Out of the frying pan, I’m ambitious like fried chicken. I taste better than
fried chicken. The secret to both fried chicken and love is tenderness.
I’m professionally tender. Lonely only overcooks. I don’t overcook.
If afraid is a kitchen, gimme a cast-iron skillet. Watch. Attention pays me.
I’m rich in moments. From henceforth, the new policy of my sex life will be
caring is cool. Not all poems you love will love you back. Each time
a person says poetry is dead, I open my mouth. Resurrection for breakfast.
Every season is on my reading list. The river is a clock. Watch. I got softer
hands than time. I don’t do Brunch, but I’ll eat your How Does He Do That
For Brunch.Language is the only umbrella that won’t quit on you. Failure’s
got bad breath and success tastes like strawberries. I fucking love strawberries.
I can bury you with sincerity. Batman swears to me. If I fall, I get back up.
I’m not worried. Grateful is my toothpaste. I brush my teeth every day.
If you want to kiss me, you gotta say please.

14/30: THE FRUIT OF GRIEF

What do we want?

More certainty!

When do we want it?

I don’t know!

Tomorrow!

Maybe!

And the days
Parade
Forth.

The Unknown

Unceremonious.

Want is a seashell pretending to be the ocean.

That’s why Van Gogh cut off his ear.

Where’s the rationale for rejection?

How do you measure the value

of something lost?

Benefit of the doubt is a stupid phrase.

Nobody benefits from doubt.

Not in this country.

Belief only

Please.

13/30: I NAME MY GOD CARING IS COOL

After Emily Kendal Frey

If you level a building

Watch,

More light appears.

Whoever says fresh laundry is overrated

is probably afraid of death.

The best things in life are infinitely ending.

Take for example, the perfect parking spot.

I’m through with insincerity.

Caring is cool.

White privilege is real.

On behalf of joy,

I explain the creativity behind four-berry jam.

When my friends fall in love

The yeast in my heart rises.

Fly too close to the sun

and you might become heat resistant!

Goodbyes are sweltering.

If love has one condition,

Can it be breakfast in bed?

Another word for love is honest.

I hear Chrysanthemum tea

is the enemy of anxiety

A lot of people disagree

You can’t make me sad

Life is too rad

I say! Loudly! To the mirror! At home! Alone!

My great-grandma’s name was Bernadine.

I have neglected pretty thoughts.

I can name a million feelings

better than sadness.

You don’t have to convince me.

If you level a building,

Watch,

More light appears.

The bones of being alone

Break every last one.