July 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
This is what I mean when I say “rough”–
a bad dream, loud noise, a steely
Norwegian rock formation with a name
I can’t pronounce. The kind of water
This is what I mean when I say “old”–
elephants, buildings, Chinatown.
Dried blood on surgical scissors, every garden
smaller than I remember.
When I say “soft and new,” I don’t mean
the absence of edges; I mean a world
without physics. I mean the rocks
and the rough and the elephant tusks,
but even the falling — upward.
I mean your nose, and the rain,
and all the poems that never came.
*Prompted by Truth Thursday.
April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
Some old houses
remind us of certain pains, real ones –
stomach aches, sore throats, a jaw
at the brink of locking.
Personally, too much marble
makes me think of death,
and old swimming pools remind me
of having once been rich.
They all look like our old presidents –
men in americanas
and cigars, probably bastards
and philanderers, but with all
the right connections. Now
can you see why I talk all the time?
Show me where it hurts.
Take a red Sharpie and encircle the parts
you have trouble speaking of, the words
you have difficulty pronouncing.
We will turn them into
Because every other district
is built on a sink
hole, a fault
line, on the voice of
the glass-skinned fifteen-year-old from whom
you inherited your body.
But she does not live here anymore.
So draw a line from your pain
to the closest community hospital;
check if the national highways that run
through your palms are prone
to heavy traffic. I’d rather
be lonely than wait.
Here is a map; fold it
into the shape of the animal
that most reminds you of your mother.
Nothing in these houses
reminds me of mine –
I lived in a pouch
on the sturdiest part of her heart.
But everything that brought me
nostalgia is now in the hands
of someone else.
It’s your turn.
Tell me where it hurts
by telling me where
it used to feel better.
February 9, 2013 § 1 Comment
I wish I could extract proof
press our walks like dried flowers
between the two gates
of that little village,
always remembered differently,
always a new shade of green.
Now, I worry about thieves
and my parents’ age, and the cost
of raising a child.
I worry I’m starting to forget.
At Chernobyl, more people died
of radiation poisoning
than from the explosion itself.
And when the atomic bomb was dropped
people say shadows
were burned onto the ground,
both Japanese and American.
I can no longer draw you from memory
but I am writing you this poem
to fashion you a soul
and burn it hard
onto the world.
November 6, 2012 § 1 Comment
This story begins at the end
of a moonbeam,
yellow circle of light
warming a midnight patch of grass;
with a loud laugh and a wrong order
at a greasy diner
known for their milkshakes and cheese fries;
the day before Christmas,
standing in line at the grocery cashier
torn between materialism and hope.
Where I’m from, people are too hungry
to think about poetry
but stories always find other ways
so this one begins with
my head on her lap
and a sky
in a color I can’t quite explain.
July 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I am writing you sonnets
in between jobs.
I am thinking of your face
as the sky cracks
to let the sunlight in.
July 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
There is no space
for you in here;
I am filled to the brim
June 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
When you wrote me from Dubrovnik, on a crazy keyboard that interchanged the letters z and y, I googled the city and imagined the way the Adriatic sun looked on your shoulders, the light brown color your hair turned to when struck with gold. I wondered which quarter, among the rows and rows of red tiled roofs, housed the quaint little computer cafe that charged you 5 euros an hour, where you drafted a funny little email to ask me out, again, from a million miles away, with the only letters you had.
Do you think of me in the daytime? In all the clay and cobblestone, on the cakey island ground wet and dried repeatedly, alternately, by the sea and the sun? Do you think of me as you stand beneath your 3:00 shadow in front of the city’s oldest cathedral, licking an overpriced berry popsicle? You never knew church bells could sound so much like seagulls, singing in the stolen languages of pirates. Does my name, written in cursive on the side of a small Greek speedboat, make you think of home?
Or do you think of me at night, when Dubrovnik is wearing her reddest dress, with flowers in her hair and a long-stemmed glass in her hand? Do you imagine my lips, stained as yours are with red wine and an urge to do one thing that scares you, every day? In Asia, kissing me was not in your vocabulary, but neither was placa, or raznjici, or longing. How thin is the line between yes and maybe? How long before you run out of the fact of my face, my words, my threadbare stories, and move into the fiction of my hands? This world is a lush green forest of possibility, encroaching more and more every year on the polluted cities and industrial districts of reality, vines wrapping their legs around the rustiest pipes. It is impossible not to have set foot in it.
You sent me a postcard in your familiar handwriting, perhaps in a slightly drunken stupor that exchanged the word love for dancing. But it’s the thought that counts. And maybe in yours, we were running down the plaza late at night, hair and white dresses blowing in the wind. You squeezed my hand at the southern entrance of the Old Town, and planted a kiss on my cheek. There was never any dancing. Everything moved in slow-motion, like we were under the Adriatic Sea, and I bought you a bouquet of yellow flowers that smelled like an old library.
I am writing you back. ”Why are all Dubrovnik’s streets so shiny? Tell me about all the wars that were fought for that city.”