A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: slam poetry

5/30: ON SLOWING DOWN

i.

On test days, mom’s hands
woke up early enough
to build a meal

for me, three chorizo & egg tacos
tucked in foil,
please.
the foil kept the heat
alive long enough inside
our backpacks to eat on the bus.
Mom cooks in her robe,
spoon in hand,
pan on stove,
scrambled yolk.

The spoon yearns for movement,
but speed kills the scramble so mom
goes slow, her wrist
works like visible wind
moving so slow, the moment
is almost a secret. But
I see it.

ii.

it’s been said, I sprint through sentences
with a vicious lack of precision
like my speech is a track meet
except the audience
is the one out of breath
and somehow, I have no feet

it’s been said my voice is a vacuum
where syllables go missing,
where meaning is missed
mostly due to my quicksand
quips, the quivering lips I get
when the words I find are too
heavy to lift

it’s been said, I talk too fast
like my voice is reckless behind the wheel
like my thought-to-talk process
is a banana peel slip!
Witness every listener
hurt their hip against
the cautionary wind behind
each sentence I tea-cup spin.
I remember,
a woman who judged
my poem when I was 18
told me
that if I slowed down,
articulated my words
with the worth
they deserve, then
I’d be heard.
It hurt my
feelings
so I did not listen.

iii.

when I choose to read the poem in Spanish
my voice does not know how to move.
I freeze in the aisles between the letters
Just as I did as a kid, when my cousins
spoke Spanish as fast as light vanished
All I could hear was the dark shadow
Of sound I could not summon.

when I choose to read the poem in Spanish
I sit on the floor of my room with the windows open.
I call for my voice,
the slow breath rises,
not so much pronouncing
the word, but searching
for the light switch
the one my mom turns on
when she’s cooking
eggs in the morning.

17/30: SOMEHOW, I KEEP ON LOVING

You don’t walk into the wind, you walk against it
Contrary to the spellbound leaf, thrown around,
lifted up and taken away, unlike you, feet on ground.

Resilient soothsayer, rhythm—with your steps—maker,
Who let the concrete spin the balls of my feet? Ink-blot.
I tip-toe across a puddle and jot down the reflection

The questions I seek are answers in another form.

The wind wants to win but you have legs better than wings.
The rain wants to destroy but all it does is cleanse.
The elements want to touch you then leave, so they do.

But I am tired of losing. Watch me get caught in the rain
with my umbrella hands, malfunctioning inside buildings
I’ve built in my head, opening up, like disbelief in bad luck,

Nothing can hurt me. Not the rain, the gust, rusted lust.
On the highway, a man on a motorcycle zooms past the rest of us
while the storm is rife with hubris, my Uber driver, Asif,

Turns back to me to say, He does not love his life. And for once,
these words do not apply to me. Because I love my life. Yup,
sure do. Sometimes, when no one is looking, I yawp. Foolish talk.

Chalk-teeth. Don’t care if the words will last. I need to speak.
Taking care of my weaknesses like baby teeth, I pull the truth
out of me the same way a knot is untied. Clumsy wrists. Tight-lips.

Walking downtown, I am the furthest from being a leaf.
No, I love my life too much. Exorbitant. Joy, Flood-like.
The last thing I ever want to say will most likely be a

Run-on sentence, chasing the next thought like a promise
I told you’d I keep. Man of my word. I turn sadness into sweet tea.
Have you heard the one about misery? We all need company.

At Phoenicia, one of the chefs and I are friends.
He asks me to call him Abibi. Abibi calls me Cousin-Brother.
He thinks I’m Lebanese, and when I correct him, he says

Lo siento. Then, another time, Adios, Cousin-Brother. Language lessons.
On Sunday, Fi Amanullah, Cousin-Brother. When I ask what he means, he replies
Allah will protect you, then hands me warm shawarma, and I reply,

I’m gonna need all the help I can get it, and it’s true. I take my food, exit,
only to walk against the wind, now knowing, my body is protected.
Nothing about me spellbound or in disbelief. Contrary to the leaf.

How A Mango Makes A Man, Again

Friends! This is a poem of mine I performed at Write About Now, a poetry organization in Houston Texas who hosts weekly open mics and poetry slams at AvantGarden.