Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: spoken word

27/30: THE LOST CAUSE OF LONELINESS

In love, I watch you put your make-up on as the loud hum
of my longing stumbles back to the mountain I carved it from.

Outside of myself, I exit a door marked disaster, and the faster I walk,
the closer I am to your hand writing to-do lists against my unorganized skin.

I’m crossing loneliness off like it’s a lost cause. Somewhere, there is a mountain
made up of all the things I told myself I never deserved.

Each stone is a small thing, is a piece of earth bone, burrowed into the body.
Darling, I am digging my hands into the riverbed, where the soil is damp and

The current carries my secrets by the handful. The time has come for me
to forfeit myself to the fate of this moment, to throw my hands up and wait for daybreak,

Where your shoulder turns into the morning light beside my window and
I do not wait for love to say my name. I’m giving up on trying to see past the now.

I know the future of my feelings are something I cannot rewrite. I present myself to you in the darkness without a plan and without pain. What I’m saying is,

My longing used to be a locked door inside a mountain of shame. And now,
every smile you leave on my pillow is a key you carved for me, and I am in love,
And I am free.

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?

23/30: the laundry is still not done

It is almost midnight and the laundry is still not done. After another day of law, of living, of language, I am speechless in the twilight of my room. Shuffling across the hardwood in bare feet and flat feet, I grab my phone and choose Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue to fill my room. I sit on my bed and breathe in the Jasmine on yesterday’s wind. I open up a memory like a file folder. Pick up my dirty clothes and put them in a basket. Around my room, I feel the gentle reminder of belonging. Everything has a space or place to call home. Even my dirty socks. Even my dirty thoughts. What I lose in a day is not lost. I am practicing the art of returning. Understanding is a process. Understanding myself is a process. And what is a process but the steps we take forward? The steps we take out of the dark and into the light. I want to walk out of the mirror and hold he who does not like what he sees. In the jazz-filled cathedral that is my room I surrender to you, I surrender all my remarkable pain, I surrender grudges and grief, I surrender the habits that wreak havoc to everyone I love. Self-included. I surrender the guilt that runs like silk through my veins. I surrender this spoiled spool that loves to make a fool of me. Y’all hear that? Bill Evans on the piano. Each key is a soft prayer playing over the speaker. It is almost midnight and the laundry is still not done. I run my fingers through my hair and hang my head in the half-light. I want to get this right. Separating my laundry is a task directly linked to the past, or, the passage of time, or traveling back to the time you wore something else other than skin. All around me lies the evidence of my existence, where I’ve been and what I chose to be seen in. Of course, both me and the laundry are unfinished for a reason. It is almost midnight when I begin to write this poem in my mind. I take my time. I take every line and string it up across the paper sky. I pin word after word against the sun-shined lines. I’m trying to finish what I started, even if the laundry is still not done.

19/30: BUTTER SIDE TO HEAVEN

Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us,
for the amount of garlic and butter we spread
across this loaf. This loaf is God’s to unload.
Heaven is a place so take this bread like a ticket.
Give us this bread, and lay it inside the oven,
Butter side to heaven. Butter side to sky.
Butter side to stars. Butter side to moon.
Butter side to sun. Butter side to ancestors.
I stand atop the mountain of bread and lead
this prayer alongside those who remember
why we are here: is it not to rise? is it not
to become? is it not our purpose to melt
the meaning of a moment into memory?
At the altar of the dinner table, I break bread
with my beloved. We pull apart what the
heavens held like the humans we are.
We open our mouths like saints
and taste a miracle.

12/30: I AM TRYING TO FISH MY VOICE OUT OF THE RIVER

I am trying
to fish my voice
out of the river

I am trying to fish
my voice out of
the river

I am trying to fish my voice
out of the river

I am
trying
to fish
my voice
out of
the river

And I am never finished

I am trying to fish my voice
out of the river with hands
cast like a net,
open and yet—

I found my voice running
into itself
like a lost current
inside
a river of silence

I am trying
to fish my voice
out of the river of silence
running through my mind

I am trying
to take my own advice

I am trying
to see myself
in the light of day where all I do is
celebrate the arc of my pain,
and watch my boomerang smile
skip across the water
before it finds your arms
in the dark.

I am trying
to reel my voice back
inside my throat so
the truth can stampede
through my teeth like
low hanging Oak trees
swaying ever so
it’s almost impossible to know
whether my voice
is the fruit on the tree
or the water beneath.

10/30: GRASSHOPPERS IN THE SKY

Me? I got me 4 brothers. Corey, Brent, Jesse, Kyler. Blood-bound. I love these men with all my heart, always have, ever since the start. How lucky of me, to be both big and little brother. I used to be a bother. I used to be a small king. I used to be a pawn. I used to be a boy who knew joy was simple like falling asleep on Brent’s shoulders in the backseat of the car cause Corey always got the front. Jesse asleep on mine. Eventually Kyler on his. This is the song I recall. Sometimes the words change. Like I’m never forgetting what I’m not. Always searching for who I’ve been. You know I can count the poems where I throw the word loneliness around like a stone but truth is, I ain’t never been alone. Not truly. I was raised by boys whose names I knew only as roots, as proof of who I am or was or could be. My bruised and busted lip is a trip down memory lane. I lie awake thinking of my brothers somewhere away from me. Their faces are my history. Their names a story only I can tell. One hug from them and all my pain is resolved. I got me 4 brothers. All of us the same but all of us different. Like clouds in the sky. I know we belong together though we may precipitate with different precision. All my mother’s sons. Blood-bound. Can we pretend the light that shines in the sky is each of my brother’s reaching out to me? Our father calls us grasshoppers and I become a creature of habit, hiding in the low-grass of the past. Did you know grasshoppers can only jump forward? Never backward. Never backward. Never backward. Never backward. Never backward.

What I’m trying to tell you is: I’m blood-bound to these men like the soil our grandfathers worked in, and every day I miss them.

9/30: THE PISTACHIO SPEAKS

The shell is a fortress
(badly designed)
to protect its green king

Any shell will tell you:
it’s what’s inside that counts.

I’m counting the cracked shells
all the green hearts
living outside the bodies
they were given.

I hold myself like a soft secret
Like the portrait of a seed
that never saw the soil.

Inside, I am covered, concealed, hidden.

If any hands opened me,
if I had the choice,
If I had a voice
I’d probably run
myself into the ground
back to my roots
back to the tree
that knows my name

The man holding me now,
I see how softly he pulls me from myself

Does he know I was cultivated
for this moment?

Does he know
there is a part of me
nobody ever sees?

8/30: POEM BEGINNING WITH A LINE MY MOTHER WROTE WHEN SHE WAS FOURTEEN ON THE BACK OF HER HIGH SCHOOL PICTURE IN 1979

Please help me
understand
the things
I need to know

I am not always
who I should be

How do you know
what you know?

How do you know
when to keep going?

How do you
name your pain?

How do you
word the secrets
you keep?

I am in the middle of a story
I do not remember telling

Please help me
understand

Nobody tells you the truth
unless it’s easy

I don’t know how to say what I think
without sinking into the ground
like a seed out of a season

In my head, all the heroes are dead
But I want to re-write the ending

I keep holding on to every little thing
that has happened to me it still feels like
it is happening to me

Please help me
I wrote a list of questions with no
answer and all I want
is your voice
to be a whispering map in the madness

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

5/30: ODE TO THE OLDEST I’VE EVER BEEN

I left the bar after one drink to roast squash and sweet potatoes. On the drive home, I talk to my girlfriend on the phone and hold the story of her day in my head. My bed is proud to announce I’m sleeping through the night. The calendar on my phone reminds me to look ahead. Oh the beauty of a budget. Student loans make me feel less alone. Meeting deadlines make me feel alive. Oh, to organize my socks and not find a single one missing. The joy of being together. Oh, electricity of cancelled plans. Right now, I am building a sanctuary of borrowed time. My plans for the future include fresh bread and compassion. Every day another lesson. Every day another guess. Every day another mess. Another year passes, and the mirror holds who I am with who I was. Tracing the lines on my face I arrive at different places. Oh, how the love I have to give covers the ground like pollen. If anger ever enters my bloodstream, I catch and release like a trapped bee. Calling my mother, I ask about my brothers. I watch from afar. The joy of being together. Oh, to be a witness to my own troubles. Life unravels and I turn my heart into a shovel. If I have a question, I ask it. If I know the truth, I tell it. I don’t know when all my pants will fit again. I’m learning the principle of infinite consequences. I was told a poem is a seed. So I praise what is still growing.