A POEM A DAY

I'm just happy to be here.

Tag: writing challenge

22/30: a poem to the sun written in instagram captions OR Happy Earth Day

This isn’t a song about the moon,
or a bird, but the sun and you.
If you could only hear this moment.
The sun is a cure
Divine medicine.

I am the sun’s shine.

How many times
have I walked beneath a tree,
only to be greeted by
sweet light?
Oh, sunlight of mine,
who is always reaching, knocking
against the dark in me: yes,
this is our reminder to shine.
Yes, I have yet to love the light less.
Where the sunlight sifts through trees,
you’ll find me. I walk outside
to the welcoming air, what a perfect day.
I see the sun flickering over the horizon.
The light is a lesson I continually learn.
Even what trees do to light is wild.
Scary, isn’t it
to scatter upon touch?
Though, it must be lovely:
falling to the ground only
to find nothing missing,
the kiss of morning light.
Goodbye Sun,
the setting,
still surprised by the simplicity
of a moment that makes us stop.
In the summer, a man sits beneath
these trees, finding solace in the shade,
reads aloud to himself, to the world,
to the sun.
I see the gold in the air.
When the sun shines
on all that you do,
what other choice
do you have, but shine too?
I think the light likes me,
as in
I’m rolling solo con el sol.
juntos. I know, I know
Light grows over
my body, so when I say
I shine just by showing up
I’m really saying, look at me:
finally less alone—
all these sparks
for bones.
Now, look at me:
stripping the shadows
from sadness.
I’m lit with so much love,
the darkness
dare not disrupt.
I catch the sun
until my heart runs
with light
Oh, how the light reflects,
grows in every direction.
Again, the sun is a cure.
A setting sun kisses my face
even when I turn back,
when I do not face its face,
even when I am faceless,
when faceless turns me nameless—
I reach for it,
store the light in my cheeks.
You should watch me speak,
you should watch me
bad mouth doubt,
you should see
how I dismantle
the dark
between my teeth,
you should see
what light can do
for you and you
and you and you.

18/30: A POEM FOR LIZ

On the kitchen counter, I remember your hands
rolling dough for dumplings, the egg disappearing
into flour, your knuckles rolling yolk, perfect trick.
The chicken simmering in the broth next to you.
The dough, though unfinished, forms in your hands.
A single mother making dinner for her boys, and me.
Your boys, my friends, other brothers, create mischief
in the distance, shaking the plates on your walls.
Then, there is me, next to you in the kitchen, listening.
The smell of love has a noise, and you are a symphony.
It is the weekend, where boys like me escape into trees,
run down dark streets, tease the moon, spoon ice cream
until a river has formed down my wrist, licking my skin.
How wild the nights were when all I had to do was exist.
Sleep, always, a plot twist, as we tried our hardest to remove
any evidence that shows we broke our promises to you.
We spent summer afternoons diving into pools with
sandwiches in our backpacks, a snack to keep us safe.
We started camp fires and crawled rocks to jump off cliffs,
your sons, brave, me, afraid, wanting to disprove the truth
that Mexicans were natural fishes in water, but at the same time,
needing to prove I too could jump into the deep blue,
angling my body, pointing my toes, trying my best to perform
The Pencil Dive, hoping the end of me would touch the bottom
of the lake, this untouchable place I could make my own
If I just knew how to hold my breath right. Returning
was a gift I never knew how to make, only unwrap, which
is why I roam below til’ my breath billows bubbles,
sending signals above the surface like letters back home.
How you taught me to pursue without losing myself.
I did not know how to raise the boy in me like bread.
But I still remember sitting down to eat on Sunday,
my mother on her way, and me, eating Chicken and Dumplings
you made from scratch, the flour still in full bloom around
the room. I follow the steam, blow over the broth, watch my breath
turn into a lesson, a seed growing into a tree, a scared boy
growing into a man, that man, growing into me.

14/30: G-E-N-E

In the third grade, I beat Paul Veray
in the Spelling Bee Championship
inside the gymnasium at Gattis Elementary.
The word was Gene, and instead he spelled
J-E-A-N, didn’t even misspell the word,
just mistook Jean for Gene, misplaced the n
confused the the g for a j, and the a for an e,
Paul, I’m sorry.
Both language and genetics can be awfully tricky

It is a homophone
Homo: Meaning Sam
Phone: Meaning Voice
When two or more words have the same voice,
but different bodies.
We were studying them all semester
and if I knew anything at the age of eight,
it was how to be two things at once,
you know,
how to sound the same but come from a different place,
though,
I did not need language to teach me such a trick
I knew how to be the sound of what you thought,
and yet, to mean more than what you meant.

G—E-N-E,
short for genetic,
as in the kinetic energy moving through your blood
with so much potential,
the flood of who you will be
is breaking the levy,
the flood of what who were
has finally run out of room.
Inside of me, genes reach back to grab me,
like the hot sun of my mothers tempered tongue
My blood bubbling like caldo,
slowly, the confusion let’s go,
My body is a homophone
for the people that live in me
I am my own cast, my own show
But the voice, it is the same,
like your favorite song,
the best parts of me never change.

When
I talk to strangers,
I am my mother’s tongue
trying to learn their names
When I am tired,
I am my fathers nine iron,
still swinging
When I am sad
I am my grandfather’s
hushed prayers when
saying grace,
lifting myself up with
the word,
the word of someone
of God of language
I am my own god of language,
rewriting the alphabet with
the genes I keep receiving
I am re-made, turning into
another, becoming myself
through others, discovering
the recipes of my identity
by tracing
what stays the same.
My voice is not a choice,
when someone walks into my home
I open my arms like
both my grandmothers
open the fridge of their hearts,
the potential energy of a meal
is made kinetic,
your genes are prophetic,
how can the blood in you
not be poetic?
When I think I want to quit,
I am my both my grandfather’s
knuckles,
turning bricks into houses,
My friends ask for my advice,
the only voice I hear is my
mother, my father,
the chorus blurring
into a script I’ve always been written in.
When I need to work harder,
I become my brother’s
double-shift hustle,
the cross-over sweat
until I am nothing but net, and
the need to serve moves through
me like a migrant looking for
a field to put his feet in.
I used to think
my body was a family
I was too afraid to raise,
but my family raised
my body,
stirred my voice
like a sentence until it was finished,
until it was the same sound
as those who came before me.

13/30: THE FIRST TIME I DODGED DEATH

happened after I slipped and fell
into the deep end, when the water
left no room in my lungs
for me to believe in buoyancy,
or breathing.
Who thought
a three-year-old boy
at the bottom of a pool
pretending to sleep
inside his blue dream body
could not die?
My tiny body,
a broken boat,
I could not escape,
the only thing I could do
was spill over the sides of
my sunken skin.
it happened so quick,
my cries, a pathetic ripple,
lost in the blue spool
of a hot summer day.
But, I did not die.
My oldest brother
jumped in to save me,
like a prodigal fish,
returning to the current.
This is what we mean
by sink or swim.
When death skimmed
my little life like a pelican
I was inside
a body of water,
a deluge of blue
blurring the line
between breath and death
But, I did not die.
My little unsinkable heart
crafted a life raft.
My little anchored body
uplifted by hands
belonging to a blue-eyed boy,
who would not leave me behind,
though,
we
both left the bright blue abyss,
returned back to the surface,
My body now braver
thanks to the bravado
of his own diving body,
took me against his hip,
and then we went back to earth,
and the sun kissed my face,
with big yellow lips.

 

12/30: REMEMBER THE RED POWER RANGER CAKE?

Never did I want to be more loved
than when my brothers slammed
their bedroom door in my face,
turning the lock, my heroes
tossing their cape off and me,
laying
against the door,
the annoying little brother
the anointed little bother, forgotten
But still, I knocked.
Can I come in? Please? I won’t say anything.
Through the door, laughter low like
our mother’s breathing, down the hall,
so low I have become smaller in the thrall
of it, so small, I don’t even have a name.
But if I am to grow big, I cannot beg.
I lift my legs into the sky of someday,
I pretend both my brothers have unlocked
the door, both their hands open, like an invitation,
like before, on my 4th birthday, when my mother
arranged the most perfect Chocolate Red Power Ranger Cake,
with four candles in the icing, I stood in the backyard,
the sound of song surrounding me, the air in my little
lungs spun the flame into dust as both my brothers
shoved my nose into the bright red icing
and I am breathlessly laughing, my mother is clapping,
the scene is spectacular, and make no mistake,
both my heart and teeth break
into a piece of cake,
listening to both my older brothers,
singing happy birthday,
saying my name,
wearing their capes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10/30: THE LONG GOODBYE

we don’t want to leave, even when
we’re actually leaving, even when
returning home is the last thing
left to do, it’s not our style.
we choose to linger, stick around,
embrace again, embrace again,
our soft brown hands wrapped
around our soft brown bodies,
my grandma whispering blessings
across the back of my neck,
red lipstick stuck to my cheeks,
my aunt’s kisses,
my grandfather’s wisdom,
a bowl of tortillas
sitting in the center of the island,
an invitation to stay,
a warn place to put
your hands.
The swing set
getting closer to the sky
each time we sit next
to each other, our bodies,
old memories fitting against new stories,
I think the hardest thing to do
is leave when you don’t want to,
not always knowing
what you wish you knew.
Is it so bad to be late,
then? When the door
is such a chore to open,
let us rest in the love
we give, on the couch,
sitting outside in the backyard,
grandma’s flowers changing
colors and shape, their petals
holding onto the stem,
not wanting to leave, even when
the season has come to end.
My family,
we choose
the long goodbye
to close the distance
between us,
hug, and hug, and hug,
kiss, and kiss, and kiss,
yes, I will miss, miss, miss
all the parts about this, this, this.
My loves, my dears, the sweet names
I need to hear, that I need to see—
My family,
we all choose
the long goodbye
to make our beginnings
shorter, I’m sure of it.

29/30: ASK THE WIND, CLOSED FISTS DON’T GET HELD

If you uncurl your fist against
Sixty miles per hour wind, outside
the driver-side window, you change
the weather pattern of your whole life. This afternoon,
half of my arm extended into the April air,
like the last good idea I will ever have. I open my hand,
like a valley, and gratitude arrives early, gathers, into a river.
All of it, earned. All of it, mine.
Today, I think of what the wind picks up,
and include myself within this strange history of elemental hustling.
I open my hand and become an expert at temporary emptiness.
I open my hand and the possibility of touch travels
back to me like music, for once.
This time, I open my hand and the wind
picks me up, carries away the rocks stealing me from the surface,
from sunlight, all these stones stacked into a sturdy sadness,
but I can feel my hardness eroding into a whisper,
disrupting silence softly like a hum yet to happen. Alas,
this soft skin of my hand, finally a sail, an open invitation. Alas,
the wind whittles my heart into an instrument. Alas,
I open my hand into the pouring wind and my heart lifts
out of the dust, is recast into the sky, is light like the April air. All of it—

Mine.

15/30: THE AUTHOR IS A LAW STUDENT IS A POET IS NOT AFRAID

After Angel Nafis’ “Gravity”

Are you going to get a job How much debt are you in How do you ever have
time Won’t you lose your soul What type of law will you pursue Isn’t the Justice
System Broke Are you going to get a job Aren’t you lonely Doesn’t the work
seem impossible What if you fail What if you fail What if you fail What if
What if you hate your job How will you make a difference You know lawyers
are really good at killing themselves Are you going to kill yourself Why
aren’t you raising your voice Why are you so calm How can you be so happy
You mean you’re not worried at all How do you have any time to write poems
Why don’t you just be a poet But how will you get a job Isn’t poetry dead
Isn’t poetry dying Why do you keep writing How do you ever have time
Aren’t you lonely with all those words Isn’t language big Why are you smiling
Why so grateful How is it you get out of bed every morning How do you care
about people so much How is it you are okay with being wrong How is it
you are lost and calm How How How

How do you have
more energy
than
god

II.

And behind this door, lies the energy of god. The door is my mouth.
Odd isn’t it. I crack a smile, and shadows turn gold. Darkness
knocked-out. I jab with joy. I run the religion of It’s All Good. Nobody
should be this bright. But I ain’t nobody. See my thighs? Christmas trees.
See this face? A night-light. My heart is a furnace full of faith. Watch.
I make the stars Yo-Yo just by picking my nose. Watch. I create without waste.
Out of the frying pan, I’m ambitious like fried chicken. I taste better than
fried chicken. The secret to both fried chicken and love is tenderness.
I’m professionally tender. Lonely only overcooks. I don’t overcook.
If afraid is a kitchen, gimme a cast-iron skillet. Watch. Attention pays me.
I’m rich in moments. From henceforth, the new policy of my sex life will be
caring is cool. Not all poems you love will love you back. Each time
a person says poetry is dead, I open my mouth. Resurrection for breakfast.
Every season is on my reading list. The river is a clock. Watch. I got softer
hands than time. I don’t do Brunch, but I’ll eat your How Does He Do That
For Brunch.Language is the only umbrella that won’t quit on you. Failure’s
got bad breath and success tastes like strawberries. I fucking love strawberries.
I can bury you with sincerity. Batman swears to me. If I fall, I get back up.
I’m not worried. Grateful is my toothpaste. I brush my teeth every day.
If you want to kiss me, you gotta say please.

27/30

27/30

Sorry, meet your mouth.
Your mouth is my mouth.
Sorry, our mouths have met
a thousand and one times today,
at least. Let’s skip the pleasantries.
We both know what we’re doing
isn’t love making.

It’s a scuffle of skin, I give, you take
I bleed and you make the red disappear
until I no longer crumble crimson. Fuck
I want so bad to be fixed
but your mouth made me forget my own
and now I don’t know whose teeth to trust.

Now biting my tongue is the same as feeling sorry
for myself, and silence is an apology I never meant
to grow into but the roots have already adapted.
I confuse truth for what refuses to leave, self-included.
What’s included with most of my self is a stairwell
of sorry’s, all leading out my mouth and back into it.
It’s a stupid kind of stuck, having a sorry mouth
It’s a stubborn kind of love, having a mouth
that is never enough and always sorry
for talkin’ too much.

 

24/30

She told me                           
No one is alone in their suffering
then looked at me as if to say                           
Yes, even you

and my eyes met her mouth like
honest truth or fresh fruit
either way, she spoke slow and
I saw all my favorite colors fall out
her bottom lip, saw them blur 
into a bridge, or a plank, or some other
distance one must make if he wants to
see the day again.

I tell her how I keep every beautiful thing I see
that way I can leave it behind when no one is looking
and how I call that positive pollution, and that I am
overwhelmed every day by what some might call
the breeze, but what is most obviously a river of what’s next,
a universal breath knocking against the stars
we have stuck in our chest,
and she is glowing
like she knows
like she knows what it means to collapse 
and come back
brighter than death.