Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9, 2009

is best served
after their legs
stop shaking.

February 8, 2009

Today I told my students
that anything could be used
in a love poem.

It may have been bold,
but I gingerly stand by my claim.

To explore its truth I'll use
the following four items
to tell you that I love you:

A garden hose
A rotten plum
A medical dictionary
The chinese character for grass.

It was your garden hose
I wrapped at seventeen
around the humerus and 
carpal catch-all of  my
laffy taffy limbs.

It was your plum
I took from Wallace Stevens
icebox after the insufficiently 
tasty ones were stolen.

It was your spleen and appendix,
your snake of an esophagus and your
little trapdoor of an epiglottis
I saw as I thumbed through
my father's medical dictionary.

And it was your poem I 
was writing when the 
accidental marks on the
top left corner of my page
managed to form a familiar
Chinese character.

I would have chosen hose
or plum or dictionary for you.
But as I sit on this sunny hill
A thousand moments from you,
it only seems appropriate that
instead of your name, with a hand
I can't hold, I've written grass.

February 7, 2009

The following poem was a scaffolding project using Billy Collins' "Walking across the Atlantic."

Eating a Pomegranate

I wait for the grocer to turn his back
before slipping it into my pocket.

Soon I am eating a pomegranate
thinking about India
looking for scarves, Shiva.
I feel the seeds pop like rain.
Tonight I will sleep in its hollow peel.

But for now I try to imagine what
this must look like to the grocer,
these exotic fruits appearing, disappearing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 6, 2009

If I were 7 and you were 5,
I would not hesitate to
push you and your pink
hair ribbon in the sand.

If I were an elephant and
you were a beetle, I would
crush you with my 40 gallon feet
in a swift step-ball-change.

If I were Uganda and you
were Liechtenstein, I would
never let you forget how you sit
so forgettably below the Bavarian belt.

If I were you and you were
this poem, I wouldn't let
you get away with this.

Friday, February 6, 2009

February 5, 2009

An Open Letter to Emily Raboteau

I heard you this evening
in a mixed media art
exhibit on the ground floor
of my university student center.

You began by speaking of Zion.

Heavy with the first fingers 
of the Pentateuch, you spoke
of Moses and Joshua and how
every slave story is an
Israelite's story.

We started by counting Egypts.

And you said this was not
the promised land, and that
was not the promised land,
and you said that you were 
still looking for that unspoiled 
milk and bee-less honey.

But I think I see it bubbling
up inside your quiet eyes.
I think I see it rolling around
the sharp bones of your ankles.
I think I see it in the colors filed
between the palm and back of 
your right and left hands.
I think I see it in the words
that fall like sand or broken
shells on the unswept floor
of your museum mouth.

I heard you this evening
in a mixed media art
exhibit on the ground floor
of my university student center.

You began by speaking.

February 4, 2009

If I were to give you something
to remember me by, it would
be an orange popsicle.
Slightly melted and falling off
its birdcage stick, I would crush it 
into the palm of your open hand.
I would hold it until it burned.

When it finished dripping onto
the Halloween street, I 
would kiss you, one hand
behind your neck, one hand
at the saddle of your jaw.

As I walked away I would
hope that when you finally 
looked down at your numb hand
you would let the words: cold,
orange, popsicle, and pain
staple me in your life forever.

February 3, 2009

I've said cerulean before,
aquamarine and burnt sienna.
I've claimed daffodil and lilac,
both puce and char truce.

But the shirts I wear are blue
and the curtains that hold
my windless room are blue, and the 
marble of the kitchen and the
marbles of her eyes are blue.
A perfect, full, unaided blue.

And if I were to be honest and
stop trying so hard to be different,
I would probably say
tangerine infused with a 
milky topaz.  Like some people
are into music, I guess I'm
just really into colors.

February 2, 2009

4,893, 322, 402 people probably wouldn't
care if I died tomorrow, wouldn't read it in
the paper or hear it from a  friend.
They wouldn't send flowers or light a 
candle.  They wouldn't call my parents or 
friends and tell them about the great sense
of loss they didn't feel and how God 
does and doesn't work in mysterious ways.

If I had a list of them I think I would find them
in their cramped apartments and beachside
condos.  I would introduce myself, careful to 
pronounce my first and last names with an
unfolding clarity.  Sure that they could recite
both first and last with linguistic dexterity,
I would beat them without mercy.  Blood
fisted and unyielding I would continue to scream
my name. As I walked away I would shout it
again over my shoulder, just to make sure.

I'm sure when they hear I've passed, they will be 
consumed with a great sense of joy. and then, of course,
there will only be 4,893,322, 401.

February 1, 2009

Don't worry about me,
they say I'm a fighter.

I've got big blood
pumping in these syringe
signed veins and vines
that twist up and out
of my arms like ivy.

My father put me chin
first into a 1963 Thunderbird
when I was 13.
It was the first car
I stole after he died.

My mother never looked
me in the eye, always bent-
necked with my father
pulling down her chin.

Now that he's gone,
I keep one hand on
her back and the other
on her chin.

I hope she understands
that I do it because
I'm a fighter, because
I've got this big blood,
because if I didn't,
I wouldn't know where
to put my father's
sandpaper hands.