la brea

delabrea

the city utility truck cuts straight through
summer’s anesthetic aura
a man on back unraveling the devil’s dentrifice from a hydraulic spigot with
dogged
resignation
antediluvian hues
weave all around the road
heightening
the chaos that has sprouted
(rather than quieting it)
her murky wriggle
roots me to
the ground
beckons me to the bed
I walk around pretending I’ve grown out of for
good

IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD

melebro3

What is life? ‘Tis but a madness.
What is life? A thing that seems,
A mirage that falsely gleams,
Phantom joy, delusive rest,
Since is life a dream at best,
And even dreams themselves are dreams.
(Calderón de la Barca, La vida es sueño, Act II)

You know, we were supposed to be born together.

Twins?

Yes. There just wasn’t enough room for the two of us
in her belly, so you took over.

Really?

Most of me went down the tubes,
but you took the best part under your skin.

So we could share this cramped head!

And now that we are finally talking to each other,
I want to apologize for the bad dreams.

So that was you…

The only time I could try to contact you
was when you were in bed. During the day you
were too busy to hear little old me, drowning in this body.

I think I was around three or four years old
when I first tried to explain you to mom.
Every night you would sneak out from
the corners of my thoughts: this tall,

skinny thing pushing me through a
forever of forest. I would run like heck
with you always closing in from behind.
I couldn’t get away from that sound:
your arms stretched wide, your stick
fingers slapping the tree trunks that
passed by your sides.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

It boomed through my ears!

Then you would wake yourself (and the rest of the house)
with those terrified, faraway screams. Sorry…

She was the one I felt bad for.
I remember the sinking rings around her eyes.

And how she would try to cheer you up-

“See? It’s actually quite a clumsy and sad
sort of creature. I don’t think he means to
harm you at all. He probably just wants to say hello.”

She was right. Man, I loved her for understanding.
But you, you kept running away from me. Except I was
getting bigger and starting to catch up.

I had no idea. I had other things on my mind. I was
starting school. Making best friends with Kyle.
Bringing lice home and sending mom into another one
of her hysterical cleaning frenzies.

And I was more and more part of it, eating up every
detail of every day (even though I couldn’t do anything about it).

Until around third grade, when my night terrors turned
into what the pediatrician called “anxiety-induced” nightmares.

I didn’t mean to stress you out so much, but you were ignoring me.

So at night, you decided to start showing up as a humongous
computerized box hanging from the roof of the garage.
In those low blips and bleeps, you called for me over and over.
They ripped me out of bed and dragged me down the hall,
out the door to where the beat-up Toyota was parked.

Dad would find you standing there, staring up into the empty
space between the boards, a baby whine trapped
behind your chattering teeth.

Shut up! You were creepy.

And then one day, you stopped sleepwalking. No more strange
machines messing with you.

But I tossed and turned. I woke up like five times a night
with sheets snaking up my legs.

Because I was still there.

You didn’t scare me anymore, though. You morphed into
the classic alien: grey skin, hollow eyes, moving all
slow and soft. You were weird, but harmless.

That was the idea.

You tried speaking, but the words drooled out in
muddy pools, saying things like ‘nalan’ or’ suol fasiwi’.

I couldn’t believe you remembered them.
Mom thought they were cool.

It was kind of fun for a while, writing the words
on a piece of paper to see if they would suddenly make sense,
her face peeking over my shoulder to throw out ideas.

But you never tried to talk back to me. All I got were
those half-smiles as you rubbed your pounding forehead.
And soon after that, you would just drift back into a broken sleep.

Then came today, this sticky-hot Saturday two days after
my twelfth birthday. What happened?

What the heck do you mean, what happened? This morning,
a dare from big Mac sent you flying down Killer Miller
to break in your Penny board. Remember? I was begging
so hard for you to stop, I swear that’s what made you
pause at the edge of the steep drop in the pavement.

It was like having an invisible hand
pressing on my forehead.

Didn’t make a difference, though. The digs of our older
brother were too much for your ego, so you clipped the
strap of your neon-green helmet and took the plunge.

I should’ve fallen right away.
There wouldn’t have been so much damage.

By holding it together so long, you must have racked up
at least 30 or 40 miles of speed. But before the left
wheel hit an acorn and sent you into the air, all I could
do was think about how the blur of static green made it seem
like nothing was moving at all; we seemed frozen.

It was a different story when I hit the ground:
me jerking one way, then another. My right arm hit first,
breaking a little to soften the blow on my head, and then
I rolled a while until the curb put on the brakes.

The feeling was stellar.

This is the part I don’t get.

From that first jolt with the road, I suddenly started
getting hold of all the messages that had been going on
between just you and our body all those years.
It was like the crash blew open a locked door, 

finally letting me in on the whole game.
Right before we blacked out, I was blown away
to hear MY voice hammering the asphalt around our oozing outline.

And to hear mine, telling you to shut up already.
You shocked the crap out of me.

And now here we are, awake, but our eyes aren’t cooperating very well.

That lazy moon sure is better than the ER fluorescents drilling
into our temples. What’s with everyone?

Listen to Mac. He’s asking why we’re talking to ourselves.
Wait- is he crying?

Shh. Here’s the doctor. I want to hear what he has to say.

Straining through a haze, they follow an oversized envelope dangling from the attending physician’s pinched fingertips, almost imperceptibly wavering forwards and backwards on its hurried path through the doorway and towards the corner of the room. The carrier of the news, Dr. Sorenson, wears heavy features with an oddly kinetic glow about them. This momentum seems to continue through his body as he springs upon his designated circular stool, whips the anticipated film out of its manila coat, and smacks it to illuminator on the wall.

It looks just like the cross-section of a cantaloupe, the butterfly opening of the cerebral ventricles evoking a seeded core. They are hit with a wave of nausea, a rotting scent of the ripening fruit rushing through their nose.

“As you may have presumed, in addition to a fractured elbow and a series of minor contusions and lacerations, your son has suffered a concussion”, he announces to their parents. His index finger presses along the terribly slim oval outline around the aerial view of our brain. “Do you see how little space currently lies between the brain tissue and the skull? This is one of the most severe cases of cerebral edema I have witnessed from a blunt trauma injury. “We need to operate immediately to attempt to alleviate the pressure being generated from all this swelling.”

Mother throws her arms around them, her body a brittle leaf, but they are too taken with the spectacularly radiant orange sherbet melting from a matching melamine dish on the tray beyond her. They are also oblivious to Dad clutching her shoulders, his knuckles taking on the pallor of his face.

Their body is transferred to a gurney and everything is a blur again. A rich flow of color, smell and sound surrounds them. Despite the rising agony, they let out the smile that has been itching to surface from the moment they glimpsed their blossoming likeness in the contrast of the x-ray.

This is really something, being together.

It’s like the whole world is in here with us.

But we’ve really gotta-

-get some sleep.

black and white (and blue)

bwb2
we gawk at the wonder of
rainbows
absolutely effusive about
multicolored billboards and tie die t-shirts and the largest
jelly bean
assortment
but when it comes to the flesh and the
bone
it’s goes black and white
(and blue)
the seed of our entire race
yanked
from its continent
dragged upon a sea
nose pressed into another ground to
sow
for the exclusive good of
the man
this is not history
this is a rumbling present
fat pale thumbs sealing lips with less and less success
a deep undeniable bellow
that bleeds out around the bodies forced
prostrate
wrists raw
for what must be the last
time

mothering (a wild hair)

Untitled-1

the first meal
its a start
three layers of cereal
two milks
a forced mirage
those sedimentary layers

twirl one
twirl two
a tress whirled back
winds us into
place

shower
dress
put off the drawer and closet avalanches
make
a contribution to the liberation of
caps lids tops
some moving to alternate universes for good
celebrated heads of state

twirl one
twirl two

fly through
the pickups dropoffs
and seasonal shuttles with
clockwork tardiness
plant vociferous kisses
squeal
plow over a ramp on a big wheel
smear peanut butter
on evenly divided rounds of banana

twirl one
twirl two

try on professional headgear
feeling silly in the mirror
let the record player in the kitchen
play subliminal cabaret debuts around
my raucous head

twirl one
twirl two
in time
but in tune?

a day is not complete if not firmly
punctuated
joust with a doorjamb eyebrow butterflied
shut
let loose the unruly locks
feel them
falling
to sleep upon
my swollen
face

portrait of a purple heart

corazon

a hoodie quietly polishes the pugilist
those rare moments she isn’t
leaping
out of her chest for
another round of
beating

dog years of bad blood to filter through and
they show their breathtakingly
deep
darkness
on this petite fist
the model contender

by now the combinations of neglect
and reproach
flow together seamlessly
days forgotten in train stations
relentless hygiene inspections
a half burial in the dirt
by a half brother
her body’s face desecrated
and
rubbed
out

all has led to this
clockwork
return of rights
and lefts
a will greater than
the life
given

she (who is kept in the dark)

oscuridad3

for a moment she
is with you again
incendiary
her waist chained to a factory fence
or on the old household stairway
the walls endless
with prairies and clear skies flowing
from her pursed fingertips
and those legs
oh those lithe eels
slipping into lake water
every dive an enviable
homecoming
but you walk on
(eyes closed heart stumbling)
for other silken wisps of before
they cling lovingly to your
outstretched arms
in the dark
well of course
that was where she would go
when during the day the fog
had begun to hang low between her ears
she would wander late
-to your father
her husband’s
dismay-
to kneel
before the council of pots and pans
their copper voices casting
all about the kitchen
a clarity she had
misplaced
momma
i’m sorry but
i only remember
on the last visit
i preferred staring at the bruises staining her wrists
over the vacuity clawing at her face
and especially over that single
flash
of lucidity in her eyes
its derisory prodding
at the very foundation of our
grief
with that said
i know she
is the shadow that joins the light
just so
to frame your earnestly upturned
lips
do you see her
in mine
as i smile in return?