Skinnin' The Pachuco

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: spring

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

1/30: SO SOME VULTURES HOLD A WAKE IN THE SKY OF MY MIND BUT I DO NOT GET EATEN ALIVE (THIS TIME)

“I wish I could tell you this story without being in it.”
– Michael Rosen, from Gaslighting in Several Parts

In the spirit of honesty, I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. Driving down I-10, the Texas sun writes the constitution of the sky. In my mind, another sky awaits my fate. On the side of the road, the colorless carnival or carcasses steal the bluebonnet joy of Spring as if grief ever had a season where it did not bloom. The song I’m singing is not exactly a prayer. In the air, a Committee of Vultures rise bright above the montage of Oak trees. As for me, I’m trying to raise my voice in this dungeon where I am. I spy a reason for living where death is a sanctuary. Death is a kettle. Death is the horizon above our eyes, where vultures circle the dead like a black Ferris Wheel alight in the sky. Whoever killed the monsters in my head left the meat on my memories. I’m waiting for the Committee to decide my fate. I’m curious if, each time I revisit the past, a vulture takes flight? My friend Michael reminds me there are stories I wish I could tell without being part of them. That I can’t just drown the past in a lavender bath. When the vultures of my mind finally swoop down to the ground, their bodies are furious and free. I’m not so sure I can say the same for myself. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve never buried the memories that kept me suffering and alive. What I’m trying to say is, there are vultures in the sky of my mind. Aren’t my memories a carcass by another name? I have a million stories where I am not the hero nor worth saving. Trauma tells but does not teach. Please don’t tell the vultures I’m here—all alone in my head, rotten and writhing—like I’m waiting for some bird in the sky to eat the idea of me like an elegy waits on the other side of my wake. Every day, I hold a wake for who I was and who I could have been. When the boy inside me lost his innocence, it was a life sentence. Sometimes I thank God I am not him. Why must I be a witness to my horrible history? The Bluebonnets come alive every Spring because it is a ritual. When someone dies, the family displays the body like a shadow everyone can all touch. A goodbye ritual. A wake. Have you ever seen group of vultures feed on a carcass together? A goodbye ritual. A wake. Ever confuse mythology for biology? It is a mistake to think every god-forsaken trauma entrenched memory is something we cannot help but inherit. What I mean is, driving down I-10 and seeing the vultures patrol the sky, I realized it is a blessing to know there is another creature who only survives on suffering alone. But in the spirit of honesty, I only have time for joy. Spring brings so many things back to life, I can’t help but smile at the power of wildflowers. I’m too sensitive not to smile at the sunshine. Even if there are shadows in the sky, I still choose to try. In the spirit of honesty, this song I’m singing is a prayer. I say, raise your voice in this dungeon where I am and a laugh blooms on cue from the woman I love. And I cannot allow myself to be destroyed.

24/30: ODE TO SUBRIDENT, SORT OF

I can’t leave my street/ without turning into an Ode/ I want to write beauty disembodied/ then proceed to explain/proceed to blush/ at my deconstruction/ devastated by the simplicity of my lust/ but before me/ A form I recognize/ Breathlessness is what the afternoon brings/ Praise my lungs/ unafraid to bloom/ Praise the colors of spring/ beauty embodied/ unafraid of gloom/ Wouldn’t that be something/ But I have left my street/ The name of my neighborhood is the Shenandoah Valley/ I do fear evil/ I do fear death/ The road before me is callous with wind/ Among this vast expanse/ Darkness goes unrestricted/ among the Storm Systems/ siphoning faith like the wounding of color/ The sweeping exhilaration of thunder/ unloosens the stitch/ in my side/ My toughness collapsed/ My collection of light/ cracked open/ for all to see/ the nucleus of marbles/ each particle pinballs to create a stronger thing/ Have I spoiled the mystery/ Has anyone seen me before the warm heat rises/ before the cool air quiets/ before the sun riots/ before the masquerade of the storm/ has made you forget your own flesh/ but this too shall pass/ but not before the spell is cast/ Look/ up ahead/ the horizon is unhaunted/ Look/ before you/ my heart/ Unhunted

5/30: THAT VIOLENT BUSINESS

“…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.

2/30: AGATHIST

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.

11/30

LOCAL MAN GULPS STATE’S BEAUTY OVERNIGHT Last night, local poet and native Texan, Zachary Caballero, watched the sun spill into a field of bluebonnets, when he decided to open his mouth and gulp the beauty of it all before it set, devastating his body, scorching his throat, all in an attempt to store his chest with heaps and heaps of gold, his closest friends report. Mr. Caballero’s mother found the twenty-two year old optimist passed out drunk on her front lawn this morning, when thousands of Texans woke to find the sun weeping. Nearly every river ran scared when they woke to an empty bed for the first time. There is nothing left to sing about, as swarms of Mockingbirds roam the bruised body of God’s country, searching for life in the belly of a man, for what remains is not due to what is left, but who is left? The sun set last night at seven twenty-six p.m. The temperature stayed a faithful seventy degrees, while the entire day tried to stay awake, until all the petals, and all the trees, and all the people that spend most their time trying not to leave, arrived in the thirsty mouth of Zachary Caballero. Friends of Mr. Caballero claim he has always had a big mouth, with an even bigger heart. They know this because he swallowed himself whole once, and came back by Spring. They know this because he weeps at the grocery store whenever the mangoes go away. They know this because he has kept the grey of every day, and refuses to say so. So they say. Numerous attempts have been made to communicate with Mr. Caballero, as thousands of Texans are wondering when they will look at something beautiful again. It is difficult to tell how the wildlife have been affected, but it is assumed that unless the state begins again, even the predators will have to pray.  When asked to comment, Mr. Caballero opened his mouth without a single word falling out. Instead, the water returned to their bodies, and went back to bed. A chorus collapsed half of West Texas as mockingbirds heard the silence turn to stone. He took every part or particle of God from his oddly-raptured body and gave the gulf back its grief, scraped his bones clean of mercy and saw the devil towns disappear when he was done dancing. When his mother discovered her son, she saw him wearing the smile he was born with, and when asked about her son’s peculiar behavior, she simply replied, “He does this all the time.”

2/30

Gratitude is the only face
of God
I know.
I know God.
God I know.
I am twenty-two
I am twenty-two and everything is new again.
To be a side-effect of spring
to be brought by spring
is this why the bloom greets me
pretty on my knees?

It is Sunday and it is Spring in Austin
and I am on my knees,
pretty. 
I sit under a tree and share the shade with three men
with three dogs,one each. 
Rocket, Charlie, Sonic.
Their names were
appropriate.
When, they all ran too fast and too far
these men would not scream, or shout, or shatter
but instead, would whistle with wonder and ask, Sweetheart, where are you?
And I think that’s significant.

The most beautiful woman I have ever known
or seen…Okay. Maybe it’s the most beautiful woman
I have seen today. But oh,
isn’t that the same? And oh
now she is smiling and feeding me cupcakes and now I am caving
like my grandfather’s veins that diatribe 
insulin, cause the sugar don’t wanna stay inside.

So, these days I swallow honey. I remember a poster
in my elementary school saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Or was it bee holder? I am twenty-two now and decide it is bee-holder.

It is still Sunday, and me and Rocket
share a spot in the shade because we
get it. Oh we get it. 

When I get up to leave, he looks at me
as if he were to ask, sweetheart, where are you going?
I look back at him and smile, as if I were to say,
I am going weightless.
And suddenly I can’t feel my body
Suddenly I am weightless.
Wait. I spoke too soon (sometimes,
the tongue is a trick I have to trace back
to get.) I feel my body encouraging
itself. I feel my body beginning again
so now I am worryless. The funny thing is,
I wrote that that into my phone and even it
tries to correct the word to worthless.

I feel my body now so now I am worthless?
What an absurd sentence.

I am the 22nd
edition of myself and still feel vintage.
That isn’t an absurd sentence, it’s
just a privilege to say. When
Gratitude is the only face of God 
you know, and it is Sunday and you 
are your mother’s son and your mother
is her mother, you know it’s
just a privilege to pray like you do. Like everything you do
has allowed you to make the spring of yourself 
true, and why don’t you swallow that for a bit.
Trace the tongue back, so you can get it. 

Most people do not know how to eat
and therefore cannot pray like this.
They assume it’s in the chew
and not
the cherish.