A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: texas

21/30: PEABODY PEABODY JOE

Legend has it
Peabody Peabody Joe
sprung up
from the dirt
on a Sunday
and survived
on peanut butter
sandwiches
for years.

Peabody Peabody Joe
could catch
a catfish fastest
His secret bait:
Extra Crispy
Bacon.

Peabody Peabody Joe
rode a bicycle
for fifty miles
with two flat tires
but
Peabody
don’t stop
when stop
makes sense.
Peabody
was in love
maybe.
They say
Peabody Peabody Joe
never missed
a birthday,
Peabody Peabody Joe baked
a cake a day.
Peabody Joe
kept candles
in his pockets
but always
went swimming
anyway
especially
on the fourth of July
Peabody Peabody Joe isn’t American
but he is the every man
the way he
ate a steak
the way he
watched the
sunset
Peabody Joe
didn’t know any
better
Peabody Joe
had a wild mouth
but spoke slow
cause his tongue
pretty much was
peanut butter
but what are
you going to do
language is
sticky

19/30: THIS IS A POEM

This is a poem about the heart.

Alight
Aflutter

This is a poem about the lover.

Tender
Together

This poem about the mouth.

Effervescent
Exit

This is a poem about laughter

Grasping
Glory

This is a poem about the truth.

Unconditional
Unforgotten

This is a poem about the poet.

Searching
Surreptitious

This is a poem about forgiveness.

Cautious
Calamitous

This is a poem about anger.

Work-brittle
Workable.

This is a poem about failure

Required
Rejectamenta

This is a poem about sex.

Hello
Honesty

This is a poem about debt.

Silently
Swallowing

This is a poem about death.

Vulnerable
Violent

This is a poem about loss.

Quickly
Quivering

This is a poem about brutality.

Institutional
Indifference

This is a poem about solitude.

Mysteriously
Mine

This is a poem about belief.

Yelling
Yearn

This is a poem about touch.

Narrating
Nearness

This is a poem about doubt.

Persistently
Present

This is a poem about strength.

Baffling
Benevolence

This is a poem about listening.

Orgasmic
Osculation

This is a poem about joy.

Furthering
Formidability

This is a poem about commitment.

Joined
Joy

This is a poem about accountability.

Divest
Dejection

This is a poem about loneliness.

La Luz
Longing

This is a poem about patience.

Zodiac
Zinging

14/30: THE FRUIT OF GRIEF

What do we want?

More certainty!

When do we want it?

I don’t know!

Tomorrow!

Maybe!

And the days
Parade
Forth.

The Unknown

Unceremonious.

Want is a seashell pretending to be the ocean.

That’s why Van Gogh cut off his ear.

Where’s the rationale for rejection?

How do you measure the value

of something lost?

Benefit of the doubt is a stupid phrase.

Nobody benefits from doubt.

Not in this country.

Belief only

Please.

13/30: I NAME MY GOD CARING IS COOL

After Emily Kendal Frey

If you level a building

Watch,

More light appears.

Whoever says fresh laundry is overrated

is probably afraid of death.

The best things in life are infinitely ending.

Take for example, the perfect parking spot.

I’m through with insincerity.

Caring is cool.

White privilege is real.

On behalf of joy,

I explain the creativity behind four-berry jam.

When my friends fall in love

The yeast in my heart rises.

Fly too close to the sun

and you might become heat resistant!

Goodbyes are sweltering.

If love has one condition,

Can it be breakfast in bed?

Another word for love is honest.

I hear Chrysanthemum tea

is the enemy of anxiety

A lot of people disagree

You can’t make me sad

Life is too rad

I say! Loudly! To the mirror! At home! Alone!

My great-grandma’s name was Bernadine.

I have neglected pretty thoughts.

I can name a million feelings

better than sadness.

You don’t have to convince me.

If you level a building,

Watch,

More light appears.

The bones of being alone

Break every last one.

8/30: THE HANGINGS WILL BEGIN AND LIGHTNING WILL FLASH FROM THE WHITE MAN’S HANDS

Bloodshot.

Everywhere
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
kills
kills
kills
kills
kills
kills
with no one
around to see
did his gun make a sound?
Probably not.
Probably got muffled
by the other
bang
the lightning
backdrop of fire
flashing

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.

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.

3/30: I WISH YOU COULD SMELL THIS FLOWER

3/30

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.

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.

1/30: VILLA CONTENTO

Did I tell you about the cardinal
in my backyard?
I saw a bright red body leap from the ground
and didn’t think it looked so tough.
Thought of my heart, thought of how hard
it is just to pick up the pieces, but
did I tell you about class last week?
I ask my students to read their poems
out loud to one another.
A student asks me what it means
to be vulnerable and I am not afraid
to tell her the truth.
She tells me she’s only
nervous in front of one person,
whispers his name because it
is still soft and simple, and I can’t remember
the last time I whispered a name like good news.
Did I tell you about the good news?
Cindy Phan is going back to Vietnam.
Cindy Phan is my barber and she calls me handsome.
Cindy Phan hasn’t seen her family in six years
Cindy Phan crossed the ocean because
she was sick, and now she is better.
Did I tell you about the time I got better?
Oh, it wasn’t very extravagant.
Everyone just said they loved me
and meant it.

Why I’m Not Where You Are

Because I spoke soft to you in the morning /but your mouth hit mine like snooze /leave, leaves loosely left behind like /lips split open/turning my body/ into a fountain of come and find me/ because you never came and found me/ because wind currents spoke to my feet/ until they fell asleep and I could not feel/ where they were taking me/ because when I reached for you/ and your glass-blown, smooth and hot skin to kiss my hand/ you let your body turn to sand/ because people are not pivot points/ not the front of buildings with doors revolving with the sun/ because even if I rose with you/ my heart is still sleep-talking/ I reverberate but nothing translates/ language is not so absolute/when every letter is filled with loose change/ pennies that slipped away/ careful copper-talker, when you don’t shine/ no-one takes the time to ask why/ because house-guests don’t always get breakfast /because hunger is hardly enough reason to stay/ because ache is a place between your face and my face/ and there are miles of highway pretending to be asphalt/ but nothing that smooth is true/ because you are beautiful and true /and that is so new to me/because all my grief grew into a pomegranate/and you didn’t want to pick me apart /because if you asked me to stay/ I must have missed the transmission /because when love was said/ your mouth turned vacuum/ nothing was safe / not my name/not all this tenderness/ I saved for you/ because you can’t be angry over something you aren’t willing to ask for/ and I’m not willing to ask for you to choose/ because the sky doesn’t ask to be blue/ the sun doesn’t choose to come up/ because love is true regardless of choice/ and that is the triumph that puts lumps in our throats/ I’m not where you are because when/ I pressed my head against your chest/ there was no thump, no wild rumpus/ no chorus that played, no slow song/ that made us sway/ and what am I supposed to say that?