I'm just happy to be here.



I do not surrender!

These eggs need salt!

The smile is still my natural habitat.

Chicken soup says I love you.

I haven’t set an alarm for my heart.

Sleeping in late is actually a form of medicine.

All your ex-girlfriends agree:

you did nothing wrong.

This just in!

One day, your name will be someone’s favorite song.



I look
my eyes burn

The wrong light
emanates and no one wants
to collect the leftover darkness,
bear the ungraceful grasp of grief.

What came first,
the dark dance of a bullet or
the finger that pulled it?
No, let’s try that again.

What came first,
the dark dance of a bullet
or a State Sanctioned game of
musical graves?

Violence is not invisible
is not random
it is a resilient and
rhythmic institution.

If a police officer
with no one
around to see
did his gun make a sound?
Probably not.
Probably got muffled
by the other
the lightning
backdrop of fire

What do I do with
this hive of fury?

A headline last month read:
“Black Man’s Body Found Hanging From Tree in Mississippi”
Another one declares
“All 43 Missing Mexican Students Are Dead”
Another one reads
“Somali Militants Kill 147 at Kenyan University”

I read and weep.
I read and weep.
I read and weep.
It is too loud in my head
But every time I wish to escape,
I cannot help but feel like a coward
too afraid to scour this dark interior
to wed anger with effort,
so I swallow my tongue,
let my mouth go numb,
because while I am alive,
how does one ever
protect the dead?

& this is the riddle of dread.


“…woe is translatable to joy if light
becomes darkness and darkness light,
as it will—“
-William Carlos Williams

On the day of the spring equinox,
I fed myself strawberries, ate black plums,
someone called me handsome and I hummed
to myself in the kitchen.

A quick note on the black plums:
the first time, I grabbed one was an accident
had to be the summer before last
the one I spent alone in my apartment
baffled by want, a linguist lost in love’s speeches,
studying for four months to take a test
so I could go to school for three more years
then take another test at the end of it. Anyways.
That next season, I read a poem out loud
to three other English majors in my Modernism class
about stolen plums, the deceptive sweetness
of language, the immediate contact with the present,
the need to reach through with what is wholly you,
and in that moment, the poet comes to know
the image is more useful
than what it represents & that’s what I’m saying!
I bite into a black plum not by my lonesome
but swirling with significance, a cloud of moments,
the long day stretched out like a highway
I cannot help but get stuck in the traffic
of my own imagination, impavid and impatient
& imagine me humming a number
equal parts lovely and somber, with plum breath
and the confidence of a compliment.
I think of all the mouths I let on my flesh,
eyes closed and touch filled with expiration,
like they expect the sweetest thing in season,
hoping for a brief revival just by holding my body, and
how this explains their reason for leaving, because who doesn’t understand
pleasure, who doesn’t eat a plum on the first day of spring
and throw the pit in the garbage, forgetting forgiveness,
you know, that violent business.


Show me all the possibilities
on how not to be alone.
I am telling you I need you.
The rain won’t quit looking
for a body to swallow
It is telling everyone to need
each other, but people do not
have appetites for people.
People just have appetites.
I don’t long for the company
of another because I am hungry.
Every day I perform for love
but the audience is stuck in traffic
The show does not go on
even when my mouth does,
even when I say what I mean,
and who knows what I mean.
I am under the moon with a woman
who does not know my history with rain
who looks at me like the first days in spring
and suddenly the sensation of sinking is gone.
How do I explain the absence of love
without looking for it?
I am my heart’s only detective.
The mystery of meaning
is knowing without saying
but I cannot do both.
Show me, show me, show me.
All the possibilities.
How does anyone stop being alone?
Does the sadness pile and pile or
does it serve some other purpose?
Say my name in the middle of a sentence
where sadness cannot reach.
If my day is truly good, I will tell you all about it.
Don’t let me slip away with simple answers.
If ever I make-pretend, take away my hands.
Both my hands are open and only you can fill them.
When I trap myself inside the house lonely built,
tell me to open my curtains.
Outside my street, live oaks longer than longing.
Behind my house, a whole street called Moonmist
Early one morning, a grandmother teaches her grandson
how to rake, shows him where to place his hands,
and how to build a mountain of fallen things,
and he is trying so hard to gather, to put his hands
where his hands should go, and even then,
his body is not big enough, he cannot do
what he has to do, but what difference does
that make?



I wish you could smell this flower.
I don’t know the name of it, but
the pavement is blushing lavender
or a color in the lavender family, maybe
a first cousin to lavender, only more lovely
because it is in front of me and nameless,
but petals and petals and petals of beautiful anonymity,
how terribly difficult it must be to love
something you cannot say, ask to stay.

With me is Billy and we just ate ice cream and sorbet
after leaving San Dolores Park by riding a slide down
to the playground where just moments earlier,
a Mexican man earned his living by selling slices of pizza to smiling people
who still had room for want and and despite my distaste for fractions
it is nine-tenths a perfect day when
a little girl kneels down on the sidewalk outside the ice cream shop
and picks up this flower whose name could not possibly
achieve its purpose of explanation
or offer meaning without leaving too much room for
interpretation, but of course it has a name,
of course it belongs to something we can all say,
but what I want to say is,
a little girl knees down and picks up this flower
and puts her mouth up against it
like she’s part of the family, maybe a first cousin
or a sister, or a mother, or a daughter
and she pulls whatever sweetness there is
with her mouth, with her nose, with her whole body,
and I wish you could smell this flower.


I am twenty-three and my heart feels the breeze
even in my sleep. I squeeze a blood-orange and
smell the perfume of citrus on my hands. Even my touch
grows braver the sweeter the songs I sing.
Like last Sunday, I set my body before the sun
lowered my mouth and saw the spring moonlight
pour out, like a melody, parody or parable.
My mouth is a house of blue solitude, wide-open sky,
you should see the trees that give me shade
and the guests who never stay.
I am twenty-three and my heart feels the breeze always.
When someone asks about the potholes in your heart
do not mention the bad days, the flat tire, the reckless speeding.
There are only good days and on good days
survival is the only the answer. I have so many questions
I do not want to ask. The weight of what I don’t know
lets me know plenty room is left to grow.
I don’t always want to finish what’s next.
Whatever happened to breakfast?
I slept through mornings because the cost of living
was not convincing.
I could not remember what waited for me.
I know lonesome does not deserve my love
but that conversation is such a hard thing to do.
I hear my gift with words is such a blessing.
I hear it’s not fair because you’re better with words
I say it isn’t so simple.
When you’re afraid of what the dark can do,
Language is the only room to run to.
Being good with what scares me most
is not a badge, but a casket of truths. Yes,
speech is a gift, but I never asked for a mouth,
for this matrimony of what I feel always coming back out,
never asked to love the significance that
always invites itself over and under my sheets,
but it belongs to me, is mine to sift through.
The pulchritude of an April afternoon tells me
it is too soon for anger.
I am twenty-three and my heart is caught in a breeze,
this poem is an invitation for you sway with me.
I am an architect of kindness and I require your spiritual congruity.
Take Agathist, derived from Greek, is a person who
believes all things reach toward an ultimate good.
Let that be me.
I have a history of inconsolability I do not want to repeat.
Rinse my mouth out with all the color I want to keep.
My mother leaves a voicemail I listen to while
I stir a pot of beans I made using my grandmother’s recipe.
Outside, the birds and the bees sing and sting,
I watch, stir and smell the steam, the weight of what
I do know can feed a family, can find meaning
even when my belly or heart is empty,
damaged by the translation of want and need,
even then, love is instructive,
even then, love is this scene, the one where I leave my house
and everyone is happy to see me.