A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: poetry challenge

24/30: WHO OPENED THE DOOR?

When we speak of medicine, what we mean is
we are waiting for a miracle to open the door

But before: let us address the Despair carried everywhere we go
Who told your hurt to come home and open the door?

On the radio, I hear if you don’t transform your pain, you will transmit it,
And what better way to explain pain than something that opens the door?

The best thing any of us can do is anticipate the eyes of our lover
when we hand over our dark, deserving hearts, and ask them to open the door.

Lead me into a room full of mirrors and I know I’ll find a way to hide
myself from the side of myself because I refuse to open the door.

I know the opposite of shame, the opposite of fear, the opposite of violence
all depends on the listener. Isn’t meaning the key we use to open the door?

When I lost my innocence, I ran out one room and into another.
My god, the child in me wants to know: who opened the door?

6/30: YOUR HAND ON A COUNTRY ROAD IN A LIGHTNING SHOW

On the darkest country road, I touch your hand in the dark
to remind my wandering mind
of what it feels like to be held while lightning
surrounds the sky the same way my arms do
around you when we sleep together and my breathing
slows down the same way storm clouds move in the sky
Something inside of me is forming
The sky’s bright siren is a warning signal
And where we are going, I have nothing left to fear
It is April and all the flowers laugh in the distance
as my car speeds past rolling hills of bluebonnets
I’m reaching through every reason I have to stay
And your hand anchors me to the Earth like a law
I will always follow. I only know
it took years to see
the possibility of not being alone

Whenever the clouds swallow the lightning,
I know you are my waiting horizon
I know you are the light that stays
I know you are the hand that reaches back

On the darkest country road, I interrogate the fate of my heart
Is this the place we start anew?

I look over to you in awe as lightning circles your face
Songs fill the space between us, music rolls in the clouds

And we listen
as the car carries us forward
together

24/30: SELF-PORTRAIT WITH & WITHOUT

After Chen Chen’s poem of the same title, from When I Grow Up I Want To Be A List of Further Possibilities

With flat feet. Without mustard. With my hand in the wind on the driver’s side window. Without my grandma’s green thumb. With three degrees. Without enough sleep. With interest accruing. Without a proper bookshelf. With cold coffee on the counter. Without somebody to love. With enough love for somebody. Without hesitation. With the West Wing. With NPR Morning Edition and Steve Inskeep. Without speaking Spanish fluently. With a Spanish name. Without my brothers. With my niece, Jessi, smiling when she sleeps. With flash flood warnings. With melancholy. Without my Uncle Jesse. With the luxurious burst of bravery. With Brent in Alaska. With Grandpa’s Parkinson’s. With Cast irons. With saints for candles. With hashbrowns, extra crispy. With my hands tied. With no excuse. With loose change to spare. With a village raising me. With a tank on empty. With moments to waste. With stubborn smoke. With credit cards. With exigency. With the scarred sky. With a gold ring. Without contempt. With key lime pie in the fridge. With the war. Without peace of mind. With dawn holding my hurt in her hair. With her hurt. Without you here. With you somewhere else I wander. With mangoes I peeled in the kitchen. With self-discovery as a page I bookmark. With my father’s ship-metaphors reaching the port of my purpose. With True North. Without ego. Without jinxing joy. With Pablo Neruda. With the gulf in my gut. With my hands covered in blisters. With Marvin Gaye. With the court’s permission. With reason. With logic. With emotion. Without home. With the homies. With the church bells ringing at the top of the hour. With the train arriving in one minute. Without a passport. Without a criminal record. With a shoulder shrug. With a gym membership to the YMCA. Without enough water. With my body floating in the ravine Labor Day weekend. With enough Pilot G-2 07 pens to fix my constitution. With amendments. Without the popular vote. With my personality pushing through my socks. With letters to women who love the idea of me. With my name on the line. With no man coming back alive. With a minute to spare on the meter. Without forgiveness. With forgiveness. With me as the villain. With me as the hero. Without fear, there is no love. Without love. With love as the last word in the room. With me as the speaker. With you listening.

23/30: AMERICAN SONNET ENDING WITH A LOST KEY

I would like to walk in your mind barefoot
Naked, mouth open. Strange glory of the body,
I ask you protect what I neglect. Here,
your soil is asleep with secrets
I softly wake with my lips. Strange glory
of the dirt, what mad joy you keep alive.
The triumph of where did it go all wrong
Fills the vaulted ceilings of your feelings
Like slow water in a dance hall. Last call
Comes like the last straw and I grab your hand
Like quicksand. Hear me with your whole body.
The secret entrance to our secret selves
Once had a key, but where did we leave it?

22/30: EARTH DAY

Out of my own wilderness I return.
After gathering the shade scattered in the garden,
I want to thank God for the Earth,
Rejoice in the sprawling worth, remembering
Spring as the time I swam and did not sink
Remembering my flintstone feet as a sundial
While I try to see the tops of the redwoods
This earth never once betrayed me
I want to thank God for this

But stop myself

Cause God allegedly gave us earthlings too
And what this earthling does in the dark of night
Underneath the marauding magnolia trees
Maneuvering between the wind as the bayou breathes
Can spring a loathsome wrath against the space we share.
Not enough of us care, even though there are more of us now
Than ever before, and the earth is smaller now than it was,
I can see it in how we look at one another.
But today, I reach for the light.
Out of my own wilderness I return from a hungry loneliness.
Even in loneliness, I have yet to love the light less.
Were it not for the pictures of my grandma’s backyard garden
All over her Facebook wall, it’s possible I’d never forgive myself
for staying inside the house.

17/30: LOVE BETTER

“Therefore, dear sir, love your solitude
and bear with sweet-sounding lamentation
the suffering it causes you.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Dear Zachary, sir—I need you to love better.
Dear sir, I need you to love better and mean it.
You can start with me, and all the sweet-sounding
suffering I cause you. This isn’t advice.
I love watching you try, but what good is
showing up, if you do not follow through
with who you wish to become?
Apart from me, you are another and I am other.
As if we exist in separate dimensions.
Am I a place you go but do not mention?
Dear Zachary, together, have we not walked
through shame like confetti and cascarones
underneath pink evenings? Have you forgot
the wilderness of your childhood, the backwards
deliverance of our innocence? We passed the time
like a jar of fireflies at dusk, opening the closed
jar to see how far we could see trace the fading
light. Each time you proposed an exit strategy to
get out of your head, who was your canary?
What if I told you it is not possible to love
someone until you love me? All the pain
in our heart is instructive. Isn’t that what
you call precedent. Would it please you
if I gave my argument with authority?
Because I know how you hate the past,
And yet, you protect your agony, unequivocally
too stubborn to learn the errors of your ways
And I know this weighs on you. I can feel
the slow puddle of your blood form when
you refuse to participate. Dear sir, please,
I am not an exit strategy. I am an invitation.
My only wish for you is to receive what
I give without leaving me behind. Remember
how it feels to stumble through the unfinished
plot of what is lost and what is gained? I know
you need me most when it rains and the air
changes instantly, announcing to the world
what is here and what is to come, the same way
you wish you could change back into the man
you wrote about once before you became an
island, stranded in the sand of your fears.
I hear you talk to yourself when you refuse
to use your voice. I know all your tricks.
In the mirror, when we visit each other,
Your eyes trace our body in the dim light.
Dear sir, don’t you see the space I give
is empty for a reason?

13/30: THE FIRST TIME I DODGED DEATH

happened after I slipped and fell
into the deep end, when the water
left no room in my lungs
for me to believe in buoyancy,
or breathing.
Who thought
a three-year-old boy
at the bottom of a pool
pretending to sleep
inside his blue dream body
could not die?
My tiny body,
a broken boat,
I could not escape,
the only thing I could do
was spill over the sides of
my sunken skin.
it happened so quick,
my cries, a pathetic ripple,
lost in the blue spool
of a hot summer day.
But, I did not die.
My oldest brother
jumped in to save me,
like a prodigal fish,
returning to the current.
This is what we mean
by sink or swim.
When death skimmed
my little life like a pelican
I was inside
a body of water,
a deluge of blue
blurring the line
between breath and death
But, I did not die.
My little unsinkable heart
crafted a life raft.
My little anchored body
uplifted by hands
belonging to a blue-eyed boy,
who would not leave me behind,
though,
we
both left the bright blue abyss,
returned back to the surface,
My body now braver
thanks to the bravado
of his own diving body,
took me against his hip,
and then we went back to earth,
and the sun kissed my face,
with big yellow lips.

 

4/30: MOONMIST

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?

30/30

WELL DARLING, I AM LEAVING

Everyone keeps asking where I’m going like I know direction.
I have been lost so many times I forgot what it means to lose.
I may be a story of defeat but that does not mean surrender comes easy.
I’m not leaving, just taking my love with me ‘cause nobody’s gonna stop me.

Not even me. Crowned King of Broken is breaking away from the tyranny
of himself and I can’t wait to rip this skin off and start anew. Spring will
be done soon and when the summer comes, I will remember the nights
where all I had for supper was whatever my mouth tried to swallow.

I have dug teeth into myself, broke into my body like a bar-b-q pit
Ripped the meat clean from the bones, took my heart apart like brisket and chewed the fat with a Texas fury.
No part of me passes through you without taking your tongue too.
That’s why I’m not leaving. I’m just taking whatever the fire didn’t.

I chewed a toothpick until I had to pick the splinters from my teeth.
Spit the soft wood off the tip of my tongue and watched a piece of something vanish.
I have decided to do the same. Most of me anyway is a broke bridge too tired to burn.
After a long while, you forget what you don’t have.

Don’t expect me to arrive anywhere anytime soon.
This Spring has been nothing but knowing a new softness.
You’d be surprised how much my teeth taught me tender
All my mouth ever wants to do is learn to love without having to leave.

But oh, the tongue is a running river that will not stop itself.
I cannot withhold what happens when I tell stories to strangers.
But oh, if all my fury goes forgotten, I swear to lose my taste for rotten meat.
Swear to smile the kind of smile that shows all my teeth, and nobody’s gonna stop me.

14/30

I am drinking Vietnamese coffee
Iced, cream heavy
As the night
I need to drink
Up.

It is easy this time.
The girl across from me
nods the night through the
roof of her voice box.
Fills her mouth with hot air and fire.
Reaches into me by keeping the heat
off her hands. Skins me by the teeth of her
smile so now I am as thin as
her hair galloping by
on a breeze, either leaving or returning
or both. Either way I am exquisite at the
fickle way her lips fissure.

Above her an EXIT
recommends itself, but the night
and the moment is too heavy to leave
just yet. The coffee
is sweating against my palm,
I cannot help but let go of
what is already melting. Besides
I have my hands hung in neon,
my palms forever glowing
OPEN and I don’t think she notices.
but oh, I hope she knows.