A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: wanpoetry

19/30: THE MARATHON OF BEING ALIVE

Eyes above the treeline, I measure my breath
with each step on the concrete. When I look
down at my feet, I’m too focused on where I am,
not where I am going, where I’m supposed to be.
The air in my lungs lunge out of me like exhaust.
I trust my blood
running and flowing like
my desire to cross
the imaginary finish line of the next traffic light.
I am astonished at the way the body moves
and how each day I show up for myself,
I continue the marathon
of being alive.


17/30: RIGHT NOW

Try not to panic when you hear the word pandemic
Or at least, try not to think of panic.
The connotation of that word
like an incantation I cannot escape.
How much time has passed since the last
time you were afraid? I watched
the whole world spend a year in fear
and fighting to stay alive.
What will I say of this time?
This morning, I drove south
through a grey sky to take
my wife to her second vaccine
appointment. Listening to NPR,
we hear a story about gospel soul singer
Elizabeth King, who started singing again
after she survived a drunk driving car accident
She sang the songs her mother sang to her
songs left behind before her long journey home
back to God. The music of her voice
harmonized with the sound of morning rain.
Looking ahead, I listen with both
hands on the steering wheel,
the gold wedding band on my finger
shines brighter than the sun.
I’m in love with right now
with nothing left to fear.

13/30: – HOUSTON, WE HAVE A POEM

Written for the 51st Anniversary of the Apollo 13 Mission

On the radio,
I hear the voice of a man
who was meant to land on the Moon
but never did.

It is the 51st anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission
Commander Jim Lovell speaks
with both his feet on the Earth
He remembers the sound of an explosion
though he didn’t know, nor did the crew,
that an oxygen tank just blew
after igniting in the middle of space
Over 200,000 miles from home.
If there was ever a reason to scream
into the black void of space-time-eternity,
this was surely it.

Everything went wrong at the right time.
Yet what struck me like a shooting star
was not the immediate sense of doom
but instead what
Commander Lovell said
That he had to stay positive
if he wanted to survive
Positivity is what makes a team work
200,000 miles away from home

3 men lost the moon
lost water, lost light
lost all supplies of life
A miracle didn’t save them
Teamwork did
positivity
became the gravity
and isn’t staying positive
another form of faith?

I didn’t know this before
but I now I do
NASA named the Apollo 13 spacecraft
Odyssey
An epic poem
about one man’s faith
in returning home.

12/30: – WATCHING THE WEST WING WITH MY WIFE

For Adela, 4 months into our marriage

After a long day,
we watch reruns of The West Wing
And make up songs about each other during
the theme song. This episode, it’s your turn.
Next episode, it’s mine. We spent the day
as lawyers, and finished it as two people
in love. I smile at you in the soft light inside
our very first house together. By the time
I finish this poem, the episode is over
and the next one begins. Season 3,
Episode 6. Jed and Abby
bicker over a disappointing homily,
something about the misunderstood
meaning of Ephesians 5:21-33. Adela,
the faithful catholic she is, laughs
from across the room. I Google
the bible verse and smirk to myself.
The words read like a neon sign:

Husbands, love your wives…

11/30:  A WITNESS

            It is difficult
to get the news from poems
                        yet men die miserably every day
                                                for lack
of what is found there.

Asphodel, That Greeny Flower [excerpt], William Carlos Williams

April 11, 2021
The President wants Gun Control but not everyone
wants Guns Controlled. Murder is still police brutality.
Another black man was murdered in Minnesota. His name was Daunte Wright.
A Black and Latinx Army Lieutenant was pepper sprayed. His name was Caron Nazario.
Coronavirus has a vaccine but not everyone wants to be vaccinated.
The world holds its breath every time it reads a headline. I’ve never been
to Myanmar but a military coup is killing its people. DMX died days ago.
A year into the pandemic, over half a million have died. A five year old
child arrives at the southern border with nothing but a number and a name.
The State of Georgia rewrote its laws to make it harder for black and brown
people to vote. Texas is doing the same thing. Amazon workers demand a union
but not everyone wants their labor organized. A new COVID variant has
once again entered the blood stream of society. If the media is a monster,
its because we feed it. No matter what happens, don’t fall for the click bait.
There’s too many days ahead to stop paying attention now. I want
some small piece of news to be found in this poem. Let it serve as
the reminder I need: If I wish to write, I must first witness.

9/30: THE UNIVERSE DOESN’T WANT ME TO RAKE MY LEAVES, I THINK

The amount of leaves in my front yard
has to be a cosmic message about
the passage of time and what happens
when we aren’t paying attention,
or at least a graduate thesis
on the ghost of gravity
pulling the invisible strings from
Somewhere High Up Above
the sprawling Oak trees that line
my little street.
Or maybe it’s a divine display of
the Inevitable, meant to remind me
that the changing of seasons requires a
kind of a blind faith. I know these leaves
have to go somewhere, but they’ll
never go back home, no matter the proximity
to its roots. A rotten truth. I used to think the soil kept
its secrets—but the ground keeps only
what it wants to. Maybe I’m thinking too much.
I can’t be the only one who has steadfast beliefs
in the trees,  or in the things
one cannot possibly conceive. What seems like
a thousand leaves fall and each one of them
is a setting sun, taking its light back from the sky
and spinning gracefully through the very air
I breathe, the same air in my lungs used
to read between the lines of some daily poem the universe wrote,
hoping I was paying attention to the smallest of details— Like the blue jay, for example,
that swooped into the afternoon shade
of the tree as a black cat unwinds in its fallen
leaves beneath—and I see the lesson in plain view.

8/30: I FEEL JUST LIKE AN OPEN BOOK

This is the part where I ask more of myself.
I can think of a thousand reasons why,
but all I need is one.
Seven days ago, under the Houston springtime sunshine,
I turned twenty-nine and like clockwork,
I examined every year before it.
There’s a story being told even when we
already know what happened. Working backwards,
I see the extraordinary timing of what I lost
and what I gained. I think of the word
Serendipity and hesitate to summarize
my character development with something
as powerful and simple
as fate. I could have sworn I made a choice
and it was the choosing that carried me
forward. What comes to mind is Current
As in force, as in direction, as in the bodies
of water I swam through to reach solid ground.
The past is filled with poems—
ones I wrote, ones I read, ones I heard, and ones I kept
on repeat in my head.
I go back to fixed points in time and look
for the reasons I tried so hard to be understood.
I look at my life like lines in a poem, as if
I crafted myself with the intention of rhythm.
The good news and bad news is I still
want to be understood. And is there anything more
romantic? The instinct in me wants to write
but I digress, but the truth is, I’m right where I want to be, even
If I need more time than I expect. What the winter
taught me was that I am still
a work in progress, even if the love I lost
returned to me like the words to
my favorite song.
And isn’t that what really matters?
All around me, Spring makes it music too
and I worship the small moments
of my meaning. Where I come from is not just one place.
I’m scattered like a vibration, possessed by
the energy of imagination. I could begin a story,
but it would just take me to another.

7/30: HOW MAKING A ROUX IS LIKE LEARNING TO LOVING YOURSELF

Over the stove,
I stir the pot of what I hope
will become the foundation
of something beautiful

It takes time
for the fire
to travel through
every particle
of flour and oil

I give thanks to my wrist
for the gift of
consistent movement

My mind’s eye
mesmerized by the
merry-go-round
of sounds and colors

The roux changes
by the second
evolving into
who it’s supposed to be—

And what about me?

I’m afraid of my own alchemy.

Who knows how much time
it takes to change
The roux asks me to wait,
says it’s on its way
And somehow
I find the patience I refused to give myself
Yesterday.

When the roux doesn’t burn,
when the color of my imagination
paints itself across the Dutch oven,
I smile to myself, proud with purpose
In love with who I just was,
telling myself,
all this time was worth it—

and that has to be enough.

5/30: ODE TO SELF DOUBT

I hear you
talking shit.
I see you
in the comment section
of my greatness
Taking up all the space in the room
of my possibilities
As a person
As a poet
As a lawyer
As a husband
As a son.
You never want me to become.
Every day
I see your face
imitating my own,
wearing a crown
of What ifs
Doubt, your majesty,
You are the King of What Ifs!
The opposite of optimism
The opposite of me
Yet you only exist because of me.

But you know,
your voice is the loudest
only because I let it be?
You’re a failed plot, fool.
I’m the proof
Regina Spektor
sang it best
I’m the hero of this story /
Don’t need to be saved

Doubt you’d understand.
This story is mine.
I do the saving,
The swooping in,
The super hero landing!
Like any good antagonist,
you are the reason
I never quit
Arch-nemesis,
I will take every opportunity
to prove you wrong in this old song-and-dance.
Shit-talking self-doubt,
I hear you yammerin’
I know what you’re about.
But if this were show and tell?
I’d be the hammer,
and you’d be the nail.

4/30: I NEVER WANT TO SAY GOODBYE

Easter Sunday
in Red Oak, Texas
A family celebrates
its faith

Cascarones
contain a congregation
of confetti

My grandparents
are also my godparents
Adela and I are blessed
in the Sunday shade
of Pine and Oak alters

The sun swims
across the
Blue stained glass
windows
holding life
under the sea

Red dirt and
green grass
surround us
like the past.
The bloom of
a bluebonnet
reminds us all
where we come from.

Without a word
I offer
a thousand smiles
to the sky
in between
slices
of pecan pie—

I never want
to say goodbye.